NEW YORK — The aide who filed a criminal complaint against Gov. Andrew Cuomo, accusing him of groping, is publicly coming forward for the first time.
Brittany Commisso defended her actions as “the right thing to do” in an interview clip released Sunday.
“The governor needs to be held accountable,” she told “CBS This Morning” and the Albany Times Union. “What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law.”
The full interview was set to be broadcast Monday.
Commisso was one of 11 women whose allegations of harassment New York Attorney General Letitia James detailed in a bombshell report last week.
Until Sunday, Commisso had only been known as “executive assistant #1” in the report.
On Friday, she spoke with investigators at the Albany Sheriff’s Office, kicking off a formal criminal probe. The governor could face misdemeanor charges in the case, according to Sheriff Craig Apple.
Meanwhile, Democrats from President Joe Biden to local lawmakers have called on Cuomo to resign. The state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee is expected to meet Monday to decide next steps in its impeachment probe o the governor.
Cuomo has flatly denied touching anyone inappropriately, though he’s apologized for actions he characterized as making women uncomfortable. Last week, his attorneys gave a press conference seeking to throw his accusers’ claims into doubt.
In the AG’s report, Commisso accused Cuomo of reaching under her shirt and fondling her breast while they were alone at the Executive Mansion late last year.
“I have to tell you, it was — at the moment, I was in such shock that I could just tell you that I just remember looking down seeing his hand, seeing the top of my bra,” she told James’ investigators.
Commisso also said it wasn’t the first time Cuomo had acted inappropriately toward her. According to the report, she detailed a pattern of predatory behavior on the part of the governor that included asking her probing questions about her marriage, grabbing her butt while taking a selfie and ogling her while at work.
“Any time he touched me I felt like it was inappropriate,” Commisso told investigators. “He was my boss, let alone the governor of the state of New York, so I definitely felt he abused his power and definitely knew that he had this presence about him, very intimidating.”
On Saturday, the governor’s attorney Rita Glavin denied Commisso’s account, reiterating that the governor did not grope her.
Commisso joined Cuomo’s staff as an executive assistant in 2019, according to the website SeeThruNY. She took dictation from the governor, drafted and edited documents and handled his calls, among other tasks, according to the AG’s report.
Prior to that, she was a staffer at the state Department of Transportation and the New York State and Local Retirement System.
Apple vowed Saturday that his office will not rush the investigation, especially given the high-profile nature of the case.
“We treat victims the same. We investigate the same. This one has more eyes on it,” he said during a press conference. “I’m not going to rush it because of who he is and I’m not going to delay it because of who he is.”
The sheriff’s office will work with Albany County District Attorney David Soares on the investigation. James’ office on Saturday announced that investigative materials collected as part of its five-month probe will be made available to local prosecutors and Apple’s team of investigators.
“We will cooperate fully with the Albany sheriff and turn over all evidence related to this complainant,” James’ spokesman Fabien Levy said in a statement. “Similarly, we will cooperate with all law enforcement agencies, as appropriate.”
Glavin, who has repeatedly painted the attorney general’s investigation as “biased,” accused Apple of already drawing a conclusion after he applauded the bravery of the women who have come forward and said he considers Commisso to be a “victim.”
She also questioned Apple’s ability to be impartial since he serves in an elected position.
Apple said politics will play no part in his investigation.
“I’m the county sheriff. I’m not going to be intimidated. I’m not going to be coerced,” he said. “That would not play out well for anybody.”
Glavin has repeatedly said that the governor barely knew Commisso. Apparently seizing on Commisso’s inability to recall the date of the alleged groping incident to investigators, the lawyer argued in an 85-page rebuttal to the AG’s report that there was only one day in November that it could have occurred.
Glavin claims that Commisso worked at the Executive Mansion for hours on Nov. 16 and texted coworkers about eating cheese.
“She was joking while she was there. She was eating snacks and even offered to stay longer when the work was done,” Glavin said.
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