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‘To the level of a crime’: Latest Cuomo sexual harassment claim reported to Albany police

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Police said on Thursday they have been notified that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) might have been involved in an alleged incident between him and a female aide that may have risen “to the level of a crime.”

It is the latest development in the ongoing sexual harassment saga for the embattled governor, who has been accused of such harassment by at least six women so far, some of whom being current and former members of his administration. Cuomo has repeatedly denied the claims made against him.

MORE ON CUOMO: De Blasio and nearly 60 New York Democrats demand Gov. Cuomo resign

The Albany Police Department (APD) officials on Thursday said they received word from the New York State Police and the governor’s office.

The alleged incident took place at the Executive Mansion between Cuomo and a significantly younger female aide. On Tuesday, The Albany Times Union reported this most recent allegation, in which the woman recently told a supervisor in the executive chamber that Cuomo aggressively groped her late last year at the governor’s mansion, where he resides.

MORE ON CUOMO: Gov. Cuomo reacts to sixth sexual harassment accuser

The Times Union reported that the woman, whose identity the newspaper withheld since she could not be reached for comment, is a member of the executive chamber staff and had been summoned to the mansion to do work, according to an official close to the matter.

Steve Smith, a spokesman for the APD, told The New York Times that the department had not received a formal complaint from the woman, but that it had contacted a lawyer for her.

Smith also noted that this does not mean that the department has opened a criminal investigation, but that it has offered its services to the female aide, “as we would do with any other report or incident,” according to The New York Times.

Albany police officials said they heard from the state police on Wednesday night, per The New York Times, after the publication of the Times Union article.

According to Smith, after state police contacted the APD, the department’s deputy chief of police, Edward Donohue, who oversees the APD’s criminal investigation unit, subsequently spoke to the governor’s acting counsel, Beth Garvey.

MORE ON CUOMO: Kamala Harris ignores question on Gov. Cuomo sexual harassment allegations

Garvey confirmed in a statement that she reported the allegations and intiated the call, after a lawyer for the alleged victim informed the governor’s office that she did not want to file a report.

“As a matter of state policy, when allegations of physical contact are made, the agency informs the complainant that they should contact their local police department,” Garvey said. “If they decline, the agency has an obligation to reach out themselves and inform the department of the allegation.”

“In this case, the person is represented by counsel and when counsel confirmed the client did not want to make a report, the state notified the police department and gave them the attorney’s information,” the counsel added.

Currently, the accusations made against Cuomo are the subject of an independent investigation launched by New York Attorney General Letitia James (D).

RELATED: NY AG releases report showing COVID-19 nursing home deaths ‘may have been undercounted by as much as 50%’

On top of that, Cuomo’s administration is also in the crosshairs of a federal investigation into reports that his administration withheld number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes from federal prosecutors, among other alleged things involving the nursing home data. Cuomo and his office have denied that they covered up the numbers.

MORE ON CUOMO: Gov. Cuomo: It’s ‘a lie to say’ nursing home death numbers ‘were inaccurate’

For these scandals, a growing bipartisan group of state lawmakers are either calling for the governor’s resignation or his impeachment. Earlier this week, lawmakers began to pave the way for commencing impeachment proceedings.

MORE ON CUOMO: Report: Cuomo advisers altered report on COVID-19 nursing home deaths

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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