Last week, an Albany judge formally dropped the forcible touching charge against former Gov. Andrew Cuomo. On Thursday, one of his attorneys, Rita Glavin, once again held a news conference presenting new material she said undermined some of the allegations against him that led to his resignation in August.
But Glavin in her news conference went further, saying the press didn't do enough to carefully vet and weigh the allegations against Cuomo due to the sensitivities surrounding sexual harassment and assault.
"The media, I've been watching the interviews that were done, the media didn't want to ask them hard questions," Glavin said. "The media, when they had information that contradicted, they didn't push."
Harassment allegations are "the third rail. You don't want to be accused of attacking the victim," she said.
Attorney General Letitia James' office knocked the latest effort by Glavin.
“Another day, another attempt by the former governor to attack the brave women who called out his abuse," James' office said in a statement. "Thousands of pages of transcripts, exhibits, videos, and other evidence have already been publicly released, but these lies continue in an effort to mask the truth: Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women. There is a mountain of evidence to support these findings, which were corroborated by the Assembly’s report and deemed credible by multiple DAs. New Yorkers are tired of these excuses.”
Six months after he stepped down from the job he held for a decade, Cuomo and his legal team are once again pushing back on the allegations leveled against him that ultimately overwhelmed his administration in the final weeks. At the same time, Cuomo is raising the possibility of suing the ethics panel he helped create a decade ago as it tries to have him return millions of dollars received for a book that has come under scrutiny from investigators.
Team Cuomo has also pointedly refused to rule out the possibility of the former governor staging some sort of political comeback — either running for office or remaining an active force in New York state.
“For the last several weeks, we have remained silent while the process played itself out -- do not confuse our respect for the justice system with acquiescence," said his spokesman, Rich Azzopardi, who recently launched a new public relations firm, in a statement last week following the dismissal of the charge. "Stay tuned."
Glavin, the Cuomo attorney, on Thursday sidestepped questions over a potential comeback campaign, but indicated Cuomo doesn't want to let the matter drop, even out of office.
"Nobody who has gone through a process, [who] knows that false accusations were made against them, can ever move on," she said.
Early on when the allegations first surfaced, Cuomo sounded a note of contrition, apologizing to Charlotte Bennett for making what he indicated were off-color jokes, not solitications for sex.
But his stance has since become more truculent, and his resignation in August was framed around his stated desire to avoid a messy impeachment fight he said would further distract the state.
Cuomo could still face a civil suit, and as of the summer federal prosecutors were probing his administration's tabulation and reporting of nursing home deaths during the pandemic. James' office is investigating Cuomo's use of government resources to help him write a book about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Still, Cuomo's team has been taking a bolder approach amid his legal fights, seemingly with the notion the wind is at their backs.
District attorneys have closed investigations into sexual harassment allegations on the local level.
Following the forcible touching charge being dropped, an attorney for Cuomo sent ethics commissioners a letter requesting they retain documents relating to the decision to have the proceeds from the book be clawed back. The move potentially lays the ground work for a legal challenge to the effort.
Returning to public life in elected office for Cuomo may be a long road, however. Even then, scandal can follow former elected officials.
Former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who resigned in 2008 amid a prostitution scandal, did not seek elected office again until 2013, when he lost a Democratic primary bid for New York City comptroller. Former Rep. Anthony Weiner's campaign for mayor of New York City imploded after he was found to have continued to send explicit photos.
And the Democratic establishment doesn't seem to be ready for Cuomo yet, either. Cuomo retains an ardent following on social media, but there is little groundswell among Democratic Party leaders for him to re-enter politics.
"I think it's way too early for that," said New York Democratic Committee Chairman Jay Jacobs. "I think it would be a mistake of him to engage at this time. If he has a chance at any future viability he has to let some time pass. I know patience can be a frustrating thing."