CNN on Monday said it will thoroughly review the documents released by the New York Attorney General that suggest host Chris Cuomo was helping his brother Andrew Cuomo in shaping his response to the sexual harassment allegations.
The news network said “thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserves a thorough review and consideration.” It added that the organisation “will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”
The New York Attorney General released transcripts and corresponding exhibits and videos from the independent investigation into the sexual harassment allegations against 63-year-old former New York governor Andrew Cuomo.
The former governor has denied any allegations of sexual misconduct. Chris Cuomo has however conceded that it was a mistake to take part in staff calls to advise his brother amid the sexual harassment scandal.
The Attorney General’s additional transcripts reveal that Chris Cuomo communicated extensively with his brother’s top aide Melissa DeRosa at a time when there were reports of more accusers coming forward.
On 7 March, Ms DeRosa texted Chris Cuomo: “Rumour going around from politico 1-2 more ppl coming out tomorrow.” She added: “Can u check your sources. (sic).”
He responded four minutes later saying, “on it.”
He later texted her: “No one has heard that yet.”
It was also revealed that Chris Cuomo relayed the information he sourced on New Yorker’s Ronan Farrow’s reporting on Andrew Cuomo’s sexual harassment scandal to his brother’s close aides.
New Yorker’s star reporter Farrow won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on sexual assault by Harvey Weinstein. He also wrote about Andrew Cuomo’s alleged sexual misconduct.
Ms DeRosa texted Chris Cuomo asking for intel about Farrow’s story, the documents show.
The CNN host admitted that he had contacted colleagues of Farrow for updates on his story but claimed that it was “business-as-usual” to use such methods. Chris Cuomo told his brother’s inner circle that the story was not ready for publication.
Farrow’s story was later published on 18 March.
Chris Cuomo told his viewers in August that he “never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
The attorneys asked CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time” host if he recalled the former governor’s team discussing the Ronan Farrow story.
According to the transcripts, he said: “They were very concerned and it kept moving. What they thought it was about was moving, when it was coming out was moving. When Ronan Farrow writes something, people in the media are going to talk about it.”
When he was questioned about whether he discussed Farrow’s reporting with his brother, he replied yes.
During the deposition, however, Chris Cuomo denied helping his brother in finding out more details. He said: “If I had tried to influence any of the reporting at CNN or anywhere else, I guarantee you you people would know, and so would a lot of others.” He added: “So the idea of one reporter calling another to find out about what’s coming down the pipe is completely business-as-usual.”
In the deposition, he also said: “The idea of trying to find ways to disparage people who come forward with allegations like this is not what I’m about.”
Lindsay Boylan, a former aide to Andrew Cuomo, initially came forward in December last year to accuse the then New York governor of sexual misconduct. She was one of 11 accusers that were included in the New York Attorney General Letitia James’ investigations into Andrew Cuomo which led to his resignation in August.
The Attorney General had concluded that the then-governor had sexually harassed nearly a dozen women. The 165-page report had also said that Andrew Cuomo and his aides retaliated by fostering a toxic work environment against at least one of the women.
Meanwhile, Rich Azzopardi, spokesperson for Andrew Cuomo, called the fresh transcripts and documents a “manipulated release.” He said: “Today’s manipulated release of handpicked witness testimony with selective redactions is typical” adding that “New Yorkers are no one’s fool and James and her colleagues’ obvious misuse of government resources to damage political opponents is as obvious and repugnant as it is unethical and illegal.”
In August this year, he had told his CNN viewers: “I’m not an adviser. I’m a brother.”
There have been calls for Chris Cuomo to resign from the news network too.