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Cuomo Apologizes: 'Jokes' Were 'Misinterpreted'

But continues to deny inappropriate touching amid sexual harassment controversy
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 1, 2021 12:01 AM CST

(Newser) – New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo apologized Sunday night in the wake of his sexual harassment scandal, but continued to deny any inappropriate behavior took place. "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," he said in a lengthy statement. "I now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that." He says an "outside, independent review" will investigate the allegations. The state AG had previously shot down his plan to have a retired federal judge investigate the claims.

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He adds that he never touched anyone inappropriately and never "propositioned anybody"; the first woman to come forward alleges he subjected her to unwanted touches and a nonconsensual kiss, and once asked her to play strip poker. Cuomo also said he's heard people have contacted the second accuser to "express displeasure about her coming forward," and ordered those people to "stop now—period." The allegations against Cuomo have resurfaced past reports of inappropriate behavior, including a video of the governor pressuring a female reporter to eat an entire sausage sandwich in front of him, Fox News reports. One sexual harassment activist tells the New York Post the statement is "Gaslighting 101," and StreetsblogNYC says its Monday edition is headlined, "Andrew Cuomo is Finished (Or is He?)." On Sunday, the White House press secretary called for the allegations to be independently reviewed, Politico reports; CNN reports lawmakers have issued similar calls. (Read more Andrew Cuomo stories.)

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