NY Governor Cuomo hires defense lawyer after sexual harassment accusations

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New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, under investigation for alleged sexual harassment and under fire for misreporting the COVID-19 death toll at the state’s nursing homes, has hired a criminal defense lawyer, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.

Elkan Abramowitz, a former federal prosecutor now working as a prominent white-collar defense attorney in New York City, said he would defend the governor and his top aides in both scandals, the Journal reported.

Neither Abramowitz nor Cuomo immediately responded to requests by Reuters for comment.

Cuomo, one of the nation’s best-known Democratic politicians, has been accused by two former aides of sexual misconduct. On Sunday, he apologized if any of his remarks were misinterpreted as flirtatious and said he never tried to make anyone feel uncomfortable. He said he never physically touched anyone.

New York Attorney General Letitia James is investigating the allegations.

In the nursing home case, the attorney general’s office in January issued a report that cast doubt on the Cuomo administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis in nursing homes. It said the state health department significantly undercounted the death toll in the homes and implemented policies that may have contributed to it.

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Uncharacteristically, the outspoken governor has stayed mostly out of the public eye since the sexual harassment scandal started gaining traction last week. Cuomo rose to national prominence for his daily televised briefings last spring, when New York was the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States.

Before entering private practice, Abramowitz worked as a federal prosecutor in Manhattan, where he served as chief of the criminal division of the US Attorney’s office.

In recent years, he represented Cuomo’s office when federal prosecutors investigated the governor for disbanding an anti-corruption agency in 2014. He also represented filmmaker Woody Allen for many years, defending him against abuse allegations.

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