Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, already facing growing criticism over his fatal mishandling of nursing homes at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, has now been hit with multiple allegations of sexual harassment from three separate women, two of whom were former staffers in the governor’s office.
Amid the mounting pressure of demands for his resignation and even a potential impeachment effort, Cuomo has reportedly hired a top-level white-collar criminal defense attorney to represent him, The Daily Caller reported.
The hiring also comes amid a sort of walk-back from Cuomo in terms of his prior tapping of a friendly former judge to conduct an “independent” probe into the sexual harassment allegations.
The governor instead conceded that state Attorney General Letitia James and state Appeals Court Chief Judge Janet DiFiore would jointly pick an independent investigator of their choosing to probe the multiple allegations posed against him.
Top defense attorney hired
The Wall Street Journal first reported that Cuomo had hired noted defense attorney Elkan Abramowitz to represent both him and his closest aides amid the probes.
Author and media commentator Evan Siegfried tweeted, “When you’re under investigation for sexual harassment and a nursing home deaths scandal, it is not the best look when you hire as your defense attorney the guy who repped Harvey Weinstein, Woody Allen and other s****y people.”
However, it has since been clarified that Abramowitz will only be defending Cuomo with regard to the investigation into his administration’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic and specifically the governor’s orders with respect to COVID-infected patients and nursing homes that likely exposed vulnerable seniors to the disease.
COVID nursing home investigation
Prior to entering private practice as a top criminal defense attorney, Abramowitz was a top federal prosecutor who had served as chief of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, New York, Reuters reported.
This also isn’t the first time that Abramowitz has been hired to defend Cuomo.
He represented the governor in 2014 when federal investigators were looking into Cuomo’s disbanding of a special anti-corruption unit.
This time, the attorney will be defending the “executive chamber” — Cuomo and his inner circle of top aides — amid a Justice Department probe into the alleged misreporting and covering up of the true COVID-related death toll in nursing homes and assisted living facilities for seniors.
That federal investigation followed a sharply critical report from state AG James in January that formally exposed the administration’s undercounting of COVID deaths in nursing homes in addition to pointing to Cuomo’s highly-criticized March 25 order that sent COVID patients back into nursing homes as a likely contributor to the higher than average death toll.