White House press secretary Jen Psaki reiterated President Biden’s support for an independent investigation into sexual harassment allegations against Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday, but wouldn’t directly say at what point the president views such allegations as warranting the governor’s ousting.
Psaki was asked about Charlotte Bennett’s accusations that Cuomo made sexual advances toward her — one of two former staffers, including Lindsey Boylan, going public with their claims.
The governor released a statement on Sunday acknowledging his comments to Bennett could be “misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation” and that he was “sorry.”
Psaki was questioned specifically about when Biden believes sexual misconduct has crossed the “red line” — whether it is “unwanted physical overtures” or “unwelcome language between a boss and a subordinate.”
“Well actually, as I said yesterday, that story was incredibly uncomfortable to read, as a woman, and we certainly believe that every woman coming forward, Charlotte, Lindsey, should be treated with respect and dignity and be able to tell their story and treated with respect,” Psaki responded.
“There is a process of reviewing, as you noted, an independent investigation. We will leave it to that process through [state] Attorney General [Letitia James] to make a determination on the path forward,” she continued.
But she was pressed on the discrepancy between the actions the White House took against former White House spokesman TJ Ducklo after he was accused of telling Politico reporter Tara Palmeri that he would “destroy” her for investigating his relationship with a journalist and the situation with Cuomo.
The White House initially suspended him for a week but after criticism mounted amid the Biden administration’s pledge to fire staffers who were disrespectful of others, Ducklo resigned.
“The president has a bar for what is expected in his administration, which you referenced, treating people with civility, treating people with respect, and that’s the bar he holds in his administration in terms of the path forward,” Psaki said.
“And the outcome of the investigation, we will leave it to the attorney general to conclude that.”
Cuomo’s special counsel and senior adviser Beth Garvey on Sunday said state AG James would launch an investigation with subpoena power into the accusations building around the governor.