Chris Cuomo’s off-air role: Brother Andrew’s strategist

IN DEVELOPMENT … The story will be updated as new information can be verified. Updated 4 times

NEW YORK – CNN presenter Chris Cuomo has played a bigger role than previously thought in helping to defend his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, against allegations of sexual harassment that he forced to leave office, according to new transcripts and SMS.

The television reporter offered to contact “sources”, including other reporters, to find out if more women would come forward and relayed what he was hearing to his brother’s advisers, according to documents released on Monday.

He also fought with the former governor’s advisers on strategy, urging a tone of apology and criticizing an early statement he saw as downplaying the allegations. He accused a senior official of withholding information from his brother.

At the same time, Chris Cuomo told investigators he spoke regularly with his brother, advising him on his response and berating him for “poor judgment.”

Chris Cuomo has previously admitted that it was a “mistake” to act as his brother’s unofficial adviser, but the extent of his involvement – including the use of journalistic contacts to identify the accusers – is uncertain. became clear only with the publication on Monday of his July interview with investigators and 169 pages. text messages, emails and other communications.

“I was worried it wasn’t being handled the right way, and it’s not my job to handle it, okay?” Chris Cuomo told investigators, according to the transcript. “I don’t work for the governor.

Andrew Cuomo resigned in August to avoid a likely impeachment trial, after an investigation by state attorney general Letitia James found he had sexually harassed at least 11 women.

Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” did his show Monday night without mentioning the subject. In the past, he said he never reported his brother’s situation to the network and never tried to influence coverage. On air in August, he said: “I tried to do the right thing”, adding that he “did not control anything”.

CNN released a statement saying the transcripts and exhibits “deserve careful consideration and scrutiny.”

“We will have conversations and seek further clarification on their importance to CNN over the next few days,” he said.

Jane Kirtley, director of the Silha Center for the Study of Media Ethics and Law at the University of Minnesota, said journalists need to understand that they are working for the public, not for politicians.

Kirtley said the extent of Chris Cuomo’s involvement in counseling his brother is inappropriate, and since they are brothers, “Maybe it’s time for him to find another line of work.”

She urged CNN to deal with the matter quickly, saying, “You can’t act like this isn’t happening. You are a press organization.

Releases on Monday show Chris Cuomo growing frustrated with his brother’s advisers as they scramble to respond as more women come forward with allegations of harassment.

The presenter asked for more involvement in shaping his brother’s message and offered his journalistic investigation to find out what other allegations might loom.

On March 4, Chris Cuomo texted Principal Assistant to the Governor, Melissa DeRosa, saying “I have a lead on the daughter of the marriage”, referring to a woman who accused her brother of unwanted touching during the wedding. ‘a wedding reception.

On March 7, as rumors circulated that more women were about to come forward, DeRosa texted Chris Cuomo, “Can you check your sources.” He replied, “Instantly. “

“When asked, I contacted sources, other reporters, to see if they had heard of anyone else,” Chris Cuomo said in the July deposition.

In one case, Chris Cuomo said he called a reporter who worked regularly with reporter Ronan Farrow to get information about Farrow’s upcoming story and didn’t tell anyone on CNN what he was doing. . He informed DeRosa that the article was not yet ready for publication.

In a March 10 text message, Chris Cuomo lashed out at DeRosa, accusing him of withholding information from his brother after the Albany Times-Union published an interview with an accuser.

“Stop hiding the s—” wrote Chris Cuomo. “We make mistakes that we cannot afford. “

Asked in his testimony about this text, Chris Cuomo explained that he told him: “Do not say things to Andrew.”

“There were conversations that he wasn’t a part of and I thought it was important for him to stay very locked up on that,” said Chris Cuomo.

Among this latest batch of investigative documents released by James’ office is a video of Andrew Cuomo’s July deposition – a transcript was released about three weeks ago – and transcripts or videos of interviews with several Cuomo assistants and advisers.

James’ office said it initially did not disclose them because local prosecutors were examining them for potential criminal conduct. After a criminal complaint was filed against Cuomo last month, giving him access to the documents by discovery, James’ office said it would release them to the public “in an effort to ensure full transparency.”

The posts were being published – first with the transcripts of the former governor and the accusers on November 10 and Monday with his brother, his assistants and other personalities – to allow time for the editorial staff to protect the privacy, James’s office said.

DeRosa, in his interview released Monday, recalled confronting Andrew Cuomo on a drive over the allegations. She told investigators that after an accuser came forward, they decided Cuomo would no longer be left alone with junior staff.

When asked about her dealings with Chris Cuomo, DeRosa testified, “I’ve spoken to Chris quite regularly. He participated in some of the calls that we made and he advised us on how to respond.

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Villeneuve reported from Albany. Associated Press reporters Jennifer Peltz, David Bauder and Thalia Beaty in New York and Michael Hill in Albany contributed to this report.

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On Twitter, follow Michael Sisak on twitter.com/mikesisak and Marina Villeneuve on twitter.com/reportermarina



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