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‘Eat the whole sausage: Gov. Cuomo in hot water for resurfaced video

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Embattled New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), who is already under fire from both sides of the aisle over sexual harassment allegations and the nursing home scandal, is now being accused of pressuring a female journalist in a video to “eat the whole sausage” at the 2016 New York State Fair.

“I want to see you eat the whole sausage,” Cuomo can be heard telling then-NewsChannel 9 reporter Beth Cefalu, all while his youngest daughter Michaela sits silently next to him, according to the video shared by journalist Matt Binder. A now-former aide to Cuomo could be seen handing Cefalu a sandwich.

“I don’t know if I should eat the whole sausage in front of you, but I’m definitely going to eat it,” Cefalu replied.

The Empire State governor then gestures to Cefalu, who is now a reporter and anchor at News 12 Westchester, to sit beside him.

MORE ON CUOMO: De Blasio ‘sickened’ by Cuomo sexual harassment claims

After she takes a selfie with Cuomo while hoisting up her plate, Cuomo remarked in an exchange, “There’s too much sausage in that picture,” which garnered some laughs from other table guests.

MORE ON CUOMO: NY dem says state legislature is ‘inching toward’ Cuomo impeachment probe

However, Cefalu hit back at those trying to turn the viral video into a scandal.

On Sunday, she told Fox News on Sunday that her interaction with the governor has “nothing to do” with the harassment claims the governor has been facing and that she never felt “pressured” to eat the sandwich.

“The governor was trying to be nice and got me some food,” Cefalu explained. “It’s probably the one day of year or story of the year he and I can be a little informal and that’s what this was nothing more. He did not pressure me – he was not hitting on me nor did I feel harassed in anyway.”

Moreover, Cefalu tweeted Monday: “I was not pressured/harassed this is two people enjoying the one event – the NYS fair – that gives them a little more freedom to be informal. [It’s] really sad it’s being turned into anything more.”

The journalist went on to go after the media in her Twitter thread, saying, “This is why people hate ‘the media’ misleading headlines and one-sided articles twisting reality. It’s really sad that any media will turn fun at the fair into some sleazy scandal that it wasn’t.”

Last week, Cuomo was accused by a former top aide, Lindsey Boylan, of sexually harassing her while she served in his administration, after she accused him in December of making inappropriate comments about her appearance. Cuomo’s office has denied the accusations she made in an essay on Wednesday.

MORE ON CUOMO: ‘Let’s play strip poker’: Fmr. Cuomo aide accuses NY governor of sexual harassment

After Boylan stepped forward, a low-level aide in the Cuomo’s administration until November named Charlotte Bennett told The New York Times in a Saturday report that the governor asked inappropriate questions regarding her sex life, such as if she had ever had sex with older men, as well as other remarks she interpreted as calculating her interest in a tryst.

Currently, pressure is mounting for an investigation into the sexual harassment claims made against Cuomo.

MORE ON CUOMO: De Blasio calls for investigation into Cuomo sexual harassment claims

In a Sunday statement, the governor said he “may have been insensitive” during his tenure but charged his accusers of misinterpreting his actions, saying, “I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation… I am truly sorry about that,” Fox News reported.

MORE ON CUOMO: Cuomo responds to sexual harassment claims, saying he ‘may have been insensitive’

“At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way,” Cuomo also said. “I do it in public and in private. You have seen me do it at briefings hundreds of times. I have teased people about their personal lives, their relationships, about getting married or not getting married. I mean no offense and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business.”

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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EXCLUSIVE: Former Trump appointee explains an ‘America First Strategy’ in the ME

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Photo: Israeli Government

The author interviewed Ellie Cohanim, one of the authors of the new book: “An America First Approach to US National Security.” Ellie is the former U.S. Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism under the Trump administration. She is currently a Senior Fellow with the Independent Women’s Forum focusing on Iran, Israel, and global antisemitism, and is a national security contributor for the Christian Broadcasting Network. In 2021, Ellie launched and hosted for Jewish News Syndicate 30 plus episodes of the show “Global Perspectives with Ellie Cohanim.” Ellie spent 15 years in media and NGO management before serving in the public sector. How would you define an “America First” strategy in the Middle East?

Cohanim: An America First strategy in the Middle East would seek to advance American national security interests in that region, while maintaining our status as THE global superpower. To do that, the US would ensure that our principal allies in the region, countries like Saudi Arabia and Israel, are economically and militarily strong, and that our adversaries in the region are deterred.

Postal: How has the United States’ standing in the Middle East differed between the Trump and Biden administrations?

Cohanim: Under President Trump, for four years we had peace, stability and prosperity in the Middle East/North Africa (MENA) region. Under President Biden, in just three tumultuous years there has been war in the region, which holds the potential for becoming a regional conflict and even a nuclear confrontation. Meanwhile, the US’ status in the region and the world has diminished due to Biden’s disastrous mishandling of the Afghanistan withdrawal, his emboldening of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and his weak response to Iranian attacks on our personnel and assets in the region. 

 

Postal: Do you think the United States and Israel are/were in a stronger position to deter Iran’s nuclear and territorial ambitions in Biden or Trump’s administration?

Cohanim: America’s position of strength has not changed under either administration vis-à-vis the Islamic Republic of Iran. What has changed is our Iran policy. Under President Trump’s administration, the US contained and constrained Tehran. Trump applied a “Maximum Pressure” sanctions campaign which left the Iranian Regime with only $4 billion in accessible foreign currency reserves by the end of his term, giving the Iranians less cash and less ability to fund their terror proxies and their nuclear program, and Trump eliminated Qassem Soleimani. While all President Biden needed to do was to continue implementing such successful policies, his administration instead did the exact opposite.  Under the Biden administration, Israel, our leading ally in the region, was attacked for the first time directly from Iranian soil. This was an unprecedented escalatory attack by the Iranian regime, and could only happen under the Biden administration.

Postal: In your chapter of the book, you discuss the weakening of US relations with Israel and Saudi Arabia under the Biden administration. How has the Biden administration affected the likelihood of future normalization between Israel and Saudi Arabia, and deals between Israel and other Muslim countries (i.e., new Abraham Accords)?

Cohanim: The good news is that the Abraham Accords have withstood the test of multiple Hamas provocations against Israel, and now the current war. Despite numerous claims from the Biden administration regarding “successful” efforts to normalize ties between Saudi Arabia and Israel, I do not think that the Biden administration will be able to clinch such a deal. In the Middle East, people have a long memory. Saudi Arabia’s de-facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) has not forgotten President Biden’s snub when he first came into office, and Biden’s incredibly poorly advised behavior towards the Crown Prince when he made his first visit to the Kingdom as president. The last thing the Crown Prince wants is to hand Biden his first foreign policy success with a Rose Garden peace deal ceremony. So, I do not believe President Biden can broker Saudi/Israeli normalization.

However, I am also convinced that it is a matter of “when” and not “if” such a peace deal will happen between those two countries, as it serves both of their interests to make such a deal. The Saudis understand better than anyone that it is the Islamic Republic of Iran that threatens the Kingdom’s security and stability, not Israel.

Postal: What do you think of the Biden administration’s latest statements withholding arms to Israel?

Cohanim: President Biden will go down in history for his abject moral failure in not standing by Israel while she fights a five-front war. Biden has shown his despicable personality for trying to keep his anti-Israel arms embargo concealed until he could first deliver a speech on the Holocaust. Biden’s behavior is despicable on so many levels.

Ultimately, Biden is betraying the American people. He came into office presenting himself as a “centrist Democrat,” but has proven repeatedly to be beholden to the radical, extremist, pro-Hamas wing of his party.

Postal: How does the Biden administration’s support of a Palestinian state differ from the Trump administration’s support of a Palestinian state under its Peace to Prosperity framework?

Cohanim: The Biden administration stated that they will “unilaterally recognize” a Palestinian state. What the borders of that state are and who would lead it, nobody knows. 

The Trump administration’s “Peace to Prosperity” was a detailed plan that was premised on the realities on the ground in Israel. The plan required that the Palestinians reach benchmarks proving a real desire to live in peace with their Israeli neighbors. It included over $50 billion in investment in the region, which would have been a road to prosperity for all. Perhaps most significantly, the Palestinian state envisioned under the Trump plan would have been demilitarized, the wisdom of which could not be more clear following the October 7 massacre and attack.

The author would like to thank Ellie Cohanim for participating in this interview.

 

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