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Sturgis Offers Free Self-Test Kits During Motorcycle Rally; Soon Cuomo's Attorneys to Speak About Accuser's Criminal Complaint; Cuomo Attorney's Speak After Staffer Files Criminal Complaint. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired August 6, 2021 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00]

ADRIENNE BROADDUS, CNN REPORTER (on camera): And that the city is also offering masks to anyone who wants to wear one, but if you look around, you'll notice not many people are wearing masks here -- Victor.

VICTOR BLACKWELL, CNN HOST: So, Adrianne what do we know from the governor? With the governor? Is she saying anything about this?

BROADDUS: You know, she will be here on Monday. She's expected to participate in a charity ride. And yesterday on Twitter she published a tweet welcoming all of the riders. She specifically said in part, that riders know about the risk more than anyone -- Victor.

BLACKWELL: Adrienne Broaddus, in Sturgis, thank you.

Any minute now, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo's legal team is scheduled to speak after one of his accusers has now filed a criminal complaint detailing sexual misconduct allegations against him.

Now, we know that pressure is growing for the governor to resign. A new Quinnipiac poll out today shows that 70 percent of registered New York voters want the governor to step down.

CNN's Erica Hill is following all of this. So, let's start with the filings and the press conference. What do we know?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: So, the filing, this is the first criminal complaint against the governor that's been filed. This is filed by an anonymous accuser, executive assistant number one. We understand she actually sat for an informal interview with the Albany Sherriff's office yesterday, this complaint was filed with the Albany Sherriff's office.

We have heard as you pointed out that we're waiting on the attorneys for the governor. They are set to hold a press conference at 3:30. So we'll see what we hear from them.

But again, executive assistant number one, just to remind you what we learned about this. So, in the report from Attorney General, there's an allegation that in November of 2020, she was in a room with the governor. She alleges that he put her hand up her blouse and cupped her breast over her bra.

Now he has vehemently denied this. He says it never happened. He says in his position statement, which was in response to the Attorney General's report on Tuesday, he said that this never could have happened for a myriad of number of reasons. One being the timeline, his timeline for the day and the records of the executive mansion are different from hers. She was there for a long time.

Based on communications between her and other people in the office, it's clear that she seemed comfortable with the governor that day. So, this couldn't have happened. And in his recollection, it was a completely different interaction. He didn't touch her breasts. As he said he's denied it multiple times, he said they had a conversation where she in fact came to him over concerns about her marriage and then how that could affect her hours going forward, what this could do with her job?

BLACKWELL: Erica, stay with me. I want to bring in now a CNN legal analyst, Areva Martin.

First, what do you make of the criminal complaint and how this changes the case as it were for the governor?

AREVA MARTIN, CNN LEGAL ANALYST: It's a game changer, Victor. Before we were talking about potential civil actions that the women identified, the 11 women identified in the Attorney General's report. Obviously had an opportunity to file civil complaints for sexual harassment and given the evidence that's outlined in that Attorney General's report, many of them have what could be considered very credible claims.

But now we're talking about criminal liability and again what Erica just talked about, touching someone's breast, putting your hand under the blouse of woman, and touching her without her consent is a criminal matter. So now the governor is not just facing potential civil claims, potential impeachment by the state legislature but potential criminal charges to be filed against him.

So very serious allegations made by this executive assistant number one. And not clear, Victor, that this is the only victim that's been identified in that AG's report that may come forward and file a criminal complaint.

BLACKWELL: Yes, we know that the investigative materials have been requested by the DAs in Erie, Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Manhattan counties as well.

Areva, I'm going to stick with you on this one. The decision by these attorneys, these three attorneys we're expecting to hear from any moment, to hold this -- this call with reporters to talk about I guess their side of -- the governor's side of this. What do you make of it?

MARTIN: They're efforts to get ahead of the story to try to change the narrative. The headlines and the reporting for the last couple of days have been incredibly damning. Have painted a picture of a toxic work force, a toxic office and with the governor at top of that environment and engaging in illegal conduct.

And I suspect that the lawyers are going to try to flip this narrative. We know the governor has denied these allegations. He's denied touching anyone. He's denied engaging in some of the conversations that are outlined in this AG's report. I suspect his lawyers will go further in, you know, confirming these denials.

[15:35:00]

But one thing that is important particularly, Victor, with respect to this victim, one that is already filed the criminal complaint, the AG's report talks about her being an incredibly credible witness. Both on the details, on the substance, on her demeanor. So, and they also talk about corroborating information and evidence that will back up the allegations made by this particular victim.

So, the governor has a really high burden to meet. I think in convincing the residents of New York but particularly those criminal prosecutors who are going to be looking to see, did he engage in any criminal activity?

BLACKWELL: Yes, the governor specifically spoke about this accusation in that prerecorded statement that we all watched after the AG Letitia James read the findings of the report. Let's listen to what the governor said.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): There's another complaint I want to address from a woman in my office who said I groped her in my home office.

Let me be clear, that never happened. She wants anonymity and I respect that. So, I am limited by what I can say. But her lawyer has suggested that she will file a legal claim for damages. That will be decided in a court of law.

Trial by newspaper or biased reviews are not the way to find the facts in this matter. I welcome the opportunity for a full and fair review before a judge and a jury because this just did not happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BLACKWELL: And one of the elements that's interesting here, Erica, is that a senior adviser to the governor said in a statement that the office proactively notified the Albany police almost four months ago about this accusation.

HILL: Right, and so just a little background on that in terms of where that came from. So, this woman executive, assistant one, said in this report and as we heard in the press conference on Tuesday, she planned to take this to the grave with her. She didn't want to say anything.

The reason that there ultimately was a report filed by the governor's office was because in March, she had read Charlotte Bennett's account in February of what she says happened to her. Then she saw the governor's press conference -- this is all according to the report. The executive assistant number one saw the governor's press conference on March 3rd where he said he had never touched anyone appropriately.

She became very emotional. Two of her co-workers saw that, she ultimately confided in them. They felt that based on the employee handbook it was their duty because this had happened in the workplace that they report what she shared with them. So, they did so. They reported what executive assistant number one told them about what happened. She says you know his hand went up under her blouse, cupped her breast over her bra.

After that was reported, Beth Garvey who was then a senior advisor acting counsel to the governor filed a report on March 11th with the Albany Police Department. She says because this was and I'm going to my notes to make sure I have it 100 percent here.

BLACKWELL: Sure.

HILL: The reason she filed the report on behalf of executive assistant number one is because again this was the policy, this was the state policy that it had to be reported. And if the complainant did not want to file that report, she had to file to so say these were allegations that were brought to me.

She also said that the woman had obtained an attorney. She spoke with the attorney and at that time counsel confirmed that the client did not want to make a report, so the state then notified the police department and gave them the attorney's information.

So that's where that notification came from back in March four months ago for the incident.

BLACKWELL: It's not as though it's altruistic, they did because it because it was policy.

HILL: It's policy. It's state policy, right. Yes.

BLACKWELL: So, let's talk about it politically in the minute we have left here. We've seen the poll now from Quinnipiac, seven out of ten registered New York voters want him out. Every Democrat from the president on through the New York Congressional delegation, the neighboring states, the governors want him out.

HILL: Right.

BLACKWELL: Any cracks politically for the governor?

HILL: Any cracks in terms of will he resign?

BLACKWELL: Correct.

HILL: So far today it does not appear to be that way. And just one further point, right, we were talking about what this press conference is going to be about.

Earlier this week the chair of the New York State Democratic Party was on with our colleague Don Lemon, and he was asked about the conversations he had with the governor trying to encourage him to resign. And he said of those calls, he didn't really talk about resignation but that the governor was focused on defending himself and being able to tell his side of the story publicly.

Which I think just fits in line with everything we're hearing. That he's not considering resignation. That he wants to fight this out. He wants his attorneys obviously out there today on his behalf as a rebuttal to what we're seeing.

BLACKWELL: All right, we will see what the headlines are out of this call from these three attorneys.

Eric Hill, Areva Martin, we see that the three attorneys are here now.

Paul Fishman, Mitra Hormozi, Rita Glavin. And are we taking this, guys? All right, let's listen.

All right. I hear people speaking. I don't -- we're going to get the audio right.

Areva, let me come to you. I mentioned that you've got these other --- I hear people speaking, I don't, we're going to get the audio right.

Areva, let me come to you. I mentioned that you've got these other DAs in Erie, Suffolk, Nassau, Westchester, Manhattan that have requested the investigative materials. What do those surveys of the materials, those investigations -- we've got audio. I'll come to you after that. With this with that, let's go to the --

PAUL FISHMAN, ATTORNEY FOR ANDREW CUOMO: -- Mitra Hormozi of the law firm of Walden, Macht and Haran. As well as Rita Glavin of Glavin PLLC.

Ms. Hormozi and I represent the executive chamber of the State of New York, and Ms. Glavin represents the governor of New York in connection with the Attorney General's investigation of the allegations of sexual harassment and we're here today to talk a little bit about that investigation.

So let me start first by explaining the idea of Ms. Hormozi and I representing the Executive Chamber of State of New York. Those of you who cover Albany and the governor's office know that that's a fancy and slightly old-fashioned way of saying the office of the governor. We don't represent the governor personally. Ms. Glavin and her colleagues do.

In March, as you all know, the governor referred to the Attorney General of New York a request that she select an independent law firm to investigate allegations of sexual harassment and the surrounding circumstances.

About a week or ten days later, Ms. Hormozi and I and our law firms of course we were engaged to represent the Executive Chamber and our role is pretty simple to understand, I think.

Our first goal and our first purpose was to make sure that the investigators got all of the information and all the documents whether they were hard copy, and electronic that they are entitled to. And as you might imagine that involved a pretty massive production over the course of the next three or four months. An enormous number of hard copy and electronic documents.

The second part of our task was to represent chamber employees if they didn't choose other counsel, who wanted us to accompany them to the interviews that were requested by the investigators.

And the third was to make sure that the Chamber and its employees were treated fairly. And it's the last of those things that I want to address briefly.

As you know, the special deputies on behalf of the Attorney General issued 165-page report on Tuesday at 11:00. As you all know this is not like an ordinary civil or criminal proceeding. Their report will not be followed by a civil hearing or a criminal or trial to determine the accuracy of their conclusions, how they go there, or to weigh the evidence. For the people in the Chamber, this was the end of the line. This was for what the Attorney General and the investigators meant to have as effectively the first and last word.

And as a result, a few weeks ago, we asked the Attorney General's office to provide the people whose conduct would be discussed, the conduct that would be evaluated, as you now know the conduct that would be criticized. We asked for them to provide draft copies of those reports to the people whose conduct was really implicated by their findings.

And we asked them to do that because we had concerns as people would in any circumstance like this, that there might be things that were inaccurate, there might be things that were not sufficiently thorough. There were things that might be included or excluded from the report that might be fair or unfair. And we wanted to make sure that the people who were going to be discussed had an opportunity to respond before the report was made public.

In the end, the Attorney General's office refused that request. And everyone in the Chamber from the secretaries to the governor who were discussed in that report got that report at exactly the same time as those of you in the press did and as you the members of the public did.

And that was problematic because their opportunity to challenge, to rebut, to raise questions did not occur until after the report was public and in today's media world where it's 24/7, all of those allegations were out and being reported while people were first flipping open the pages.

Our request was not an unusual one. It turns out that it is really a common place occurrence in these kinds of investigations. It's state of the art really for investigators to provide that sort of information ahead of time to people who are being investigated. The Department of Justice, the Office of Inspector General does it. The GAO does it. The New York Inspector General does it. Most inspectors, most if not all inspectors general in Washington do it. And they do it because they want to make sure that they are being fair to the people who are being investigated but they also do it for themselves and for the public to make sure the report is accurate.

[15:45:00]

That did not happen. As a result, it's now taken some time and you'll hear form Ms. Glavin in a little bit about things that relate to the governor in particular. But it's taken some time for people to sort through the report and to see what they might think is actually not correct.

So, I'll give you one example today which is one that got some press yesterday or the days before. And it's the one really in which the special investigators take issue in particular with the activities of the Chamber as a whole by the group of senior employees as a whole. And that's with respect to the allegations that were raised by Ms. Boylan last December, and when she started tweeting about the governor as a sexual harasser.

And as the report makes clear, the governor's office, the Chamber did two things. One, released some records that related to the circumstances of Ms. Boylan's departure from the Chamber.

And the second was to consider and ultimately decide not to publish either an op-ed or a letter regarding Ms. Boylan or about the governor.

The reason that's important is we had a very strong sense from the questioning of various witnesses, and we represented 20-some-odd employees ourselves. Between Ms. Hormozi's firm and mine. But we had a sense of the kinds of document requests that they were making that they were investigating whether that conduct was effectively illegal retaliation against Ms. Boylan.

And we wrote a 13-page letter, almost a brief actually to the Attorney General's office explaining why that conduct did not meet the legal definition of retaliation.

I understand that the Attorney General's office reached a different conclusion, and they're perfectly free to do that. That's what happens when lawyers go head-to-head and talk about the factual and legal analysis that surround a particular circumstance.

But what disturbed us about the report is that that letter got -- was A, mischaracterized and then B, effectively given the back of its hand in a footnote.

Why is that important? It's not our egos. Our egos are not bruised by that. What matters is that there's a very serious legal issue about whether the Attorney General's office is correct or not. And that serious legal issue should have gotten more consideration in a report that reaches a conclusion about illegality. And that's one example.

There will be others that relate to the governor, personally that Ms. Glavin will be discuss, I understand. And the second thing that I wanted to talk about in terms of fairness is in terms of the transcript. Many witnesses testified. Many of them were Chamber employees. Many of them were interviewed without court reporters. Many of them were interviewed with court reporters.

It's now 76 hours since the Attorney General's press conference. Not one of those witnesses and not one of their lawyers has a copy of the transcript as we understand it of their own client's interview. Nobody.

This Assembly seems to be getting them. District attorneys seem to be getting them. But the witnesses who still want to look and see whether their testimony was recorded accurately, whether the question was right or wrong and even the public who might want to see how the questions were phrased, what the evidence actually is does not yet have a copy to see that.

And that's a particular problem for the people whose conduct was being questioned. It's also a particular problem for the governor and the Chamber as we respond to that report. Because as you can imagine, as lawyers, what we like to do, what we need to do, what we're entitled to do on behalf of our clients is to see the evidence so that we can properly respond to it. But right now, we can't.

And so, my one ask -- it's too late to fix getting the report before it comes out, it's not too late to get the transcripts.

And so, whether it's the Attorney General's office or the Assembly who now has the power and authority to release those transcripts to the lawyers and the witnesses who testified and to Ms. Glavin so she can prepare her response on behalf of the governor. That's the last thing that I think we need to think about. Is whether it is now time for those transcripts to be turned over so that the lawyers representing their clients can now finally respond on behalf of their clients as you the press, you the public and people want to hear.

So now, Ms. Glavin, I turn it over to you.

Ms. Glavin, I believe you're on mute.

RITA GLAVIN, ATTORNEY FOR GOVERNOR CUOMO: Sorry about that. Good afternoon, everybody. My name is Rita Glavin, and I represent Governor Cuomo. I'm a former federal prosecutor. And I know the difference between putting together a case against a target versus doing independent fact-finding with an open mind.

[15:50:00]

There has been no open-minded fact-finding here -- in this investigation. This investigation was conducted in a manner to support a predetermined narrative.

Am I frozen?

BLACKWELL: All right. So, some technical issues from the governor's legal team here. We'll get you to them as soon as they figure that out.

Erica Hill, what we've heard from Paul Fishman thus far, this case of there not being basic fairness --

HILL: Yes.

BLACKWELL: -- a lot of this we didn't get a transcript. They've not released some of these details. We've got Paula Reid here as well. My apology for not introducing Paula Reid. Your first take on what we've heard.

HILL: Luckily, too, Paula Reid's a recovering attorney so we get to tap into that legal mind.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Is this going to be compelling, right, to the average New Yorker that they didn't get the kind of discovery that they wanted, that this wasn't the process that these defense attorneys had hoped it would be?

I mean, this is an unusual way to use the national spotlight to defend their client. They're basically making process arguments. These are procedural arguments, but no one so far in this press availability, they're clearly having technical issues, they haven't gone through their whole plan.

But no one's addressed the elephant in the room, and that is the fact that there is now the first criminal complaint against the governor.

The fact that this wasn't just a he said/she said. This was 11 women who were found credible by the State Attorney General.

So, kicking off a press conference to argue that, well, we didn't get the transcript ahead of time, we didn't get a copy of the report. That may be all well and good -- and I don't know the specific procedure in New York, but it's not really going to really change the equation for the governor given the weight of the evidence on the other side in the court of public opinion.

BLACKWELL: Yes, Erica.

HILL: It is I mean I have to say I'm certainly not a lawyer. But in watching it, that was one of the things that stood out to me. That the beginning and these are some things that we have heard in drips and drabs from Paul Fishman. Specifically, he talked about that they had put out, you know, you know, these 13 pages. He was talking about 13 pages in response to the claims of retaliation against Lindsey Boylan and what may or may not have been done by the Executive Chamber.

We know that that's a concern from them based on statements that we've had over the last three days or so. But it is fascinating that that's what we started with. It wasn't here are all the things that were wrong. It was --

BLACKWELL: We didn't get a draft of the report.

HILL: We didn't get a chance -- we didn't get a draft of the report. Now should they have? Again, I don't know, I mean, he said, look, this is different, as you pointed out, Paula, this is a, I guess, different kind of investigation, right --

REID: Absolutely.

HILL: -- in terms of what they were tasked with. And he even said, you know, this is the end of the line. We knew it was the end of the line, we knew that this was not going to produce criminal charges. The Attorney General was very clear on that.

She was asked more than once at the press conference what about criminal charges. And she said, look, this is not what we're for.

BLACKWELL: Not my job.

Areva Martin, we sill have you here with us. From a legal perspective, the strategy of how they've started this off and then I want you to get to the point that Paul Fishman was trying to make here was that we wanted a draft copy of the report so that we could offer rebuttal, and it's not unusual to try to get that. Tackle those two.

MARTIN: Yes, Victor. This is an age-old strategy of lawyers when you have nothing, throw everything up against the wall and see what will stick.

And so, Paul Fishman comes out and he makes this long kind of rambling argument about what other agencies have done in similar situations and how this investigative team didn't follow what these other agencies have done. There is no law that required this investigative team to provide them with the information that he said he didn't get. And you know we don't even know at this point if they didn't get the information.

But what was really missing from this press conference was a denial of these very serious allegations. He's making these convoluted arguments about whether there was retaliation against Ms. Boylan and whether some 13-page response to her claims of retaliation was included in this lengthy report.

But he didn't come out and say the allegations are categorically false. And that's what residents of New York want to hear, that's what the president of the United States wants to hear, that's what anyone who wants to give this governor any benefit of the doubt wants to hear. And we didn't hear that. So, until we hear that, I think the allegations of the women have to be believed.

[15:55:00[

Ms. James said these investigators interviewed these women, they had an opportunity to assess their demeanor, assess their credibility and they (INAUDIBLE) credible.

BLACKWELL: All right, I think we fixed Rita Glavin's issue.

We're going to listen it.

GLAVIN: I'll start from the beginning.

My name's Rita Glavin, and I represent Governor Cuomo. I'm a former federal prosecutor, and I know the difference between putting case together against a target versus doing independent fact-finding with an open mind. And there has been no open-minded fact-finding in this case.

The investigation was conducted to support a predetermined narrative. And our legal system, both sides are heard and given access to the evidence. But here instead of acting as independent factfinders, the investigators acted as prosecutors, judge, and jury.

On Tuesday the Attorney General and the investigators called a press conference. And within minutes of that very carefully choreographed press conference, there were calls for the governor to step down.

We weren't given, as Mr. Fishman told you, any advance notice about when the report would be released, its findings, a chance to respond to errors, any inaccuracies. And that was intentional.

This was not an exercise in truth-finding. Let me tell you that on just our review of the report, and, again, as Mr. Fishman informed you, we do not have the underlying evidence. That has not been provided to us from that report.

We have not had a chance to examine the transcripts or even memos of interview of the 179 people that the Attorney General interviewed. But what I do know based on the limited information we've been given access to, there are contrary facts and omissions from that report.

And you have to ask yourselves why?

I'm going to give you three examples. The first relates to executive assistant number one, which she has alleged is perhaps the most significant allegation made against the governor.

She has said that during the workday the governor groped her breast in his office. In essence, she has accused Governor Cuomo of sexual assault.

The governor has repeatedly denied that ever took place. And, quite frankly, when she first raised this in early March, he was stunned.

This executive assistant gave an anonymous interview to the Albany Times Union. It was published on April 7 of 2021. And I encourage you, please, read what she told the Times Union about that day.

She told them that she was asked to come to the mansion to fix a technical issue with the governor's iPhone or with his phone.

And the report states as fact that she was summoned to the mansion.

What she tells the Times Union is that she arrived, she walked into the governor's second-floor office where he slammed the door, groped her breast under her shirt and over her bra, and then she left without saying a word because she was so upset. The governor was interviewed on July 17th. And during that interview

he was told for the first time when this alleged incident took place. November 16 of 2020.

And after that interview, I did, as the governor's lawyer, what I would have expected that the investigators had already done. I did what any investigator would do, which is I reconstructed the events of that day.

BLACKWELL: All right, the governor's legal team is continuing to take on the accusations made in the AG's report.

[16:00:00]