New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo could be in trouble after the head of his impeachment investigation said an outspoken aide for the governor went too far in a tweet about State Attorney General Letitia James, who is carrying out a separate probe into allegations of sexual harassment.
In a letter sent to the governor Wednesday, State Assembly Judiciary Chair Charles Lavine reminded Cuomo that in March he warned him “that neither you nor anyone associated with you engage in intimidation, retaliation,” or attempts at either against those who have brought complaints against Cuomo or possible witnesses.
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“It is therefore difficult for me to comprehend your communications director tweeting that Attorney General James, whose office is conducting a parallel investigation, ‘says she may run against the governor,’” Lavine wrote. “It is obvious that attempts to demean the Attorney General serve as well to undermine the investigation and send profoundly negative signals to witnesses.”
Cuomo’s communications director Rich Azzopardi had tweeted in response to a New York Post article about Transit Workers Union President John Samuelsen declaring that he was no longer supporting Cuomo.
“Sameulson is an extortionist who is trying to undo pension reform. We also understand he is a political supporter of Tish James and she says she may run against the governor, and he wants more benefits in his contract,” Azzopardi said.
“It is critically important to realize that any such comment may merit severe repercussions,” Lavine said in his letter, recalling how he told Cuomo in March that intimidating or retaliatory actions on his behalf “may be considered by the Committee as an attempt to suppress other complainants and witnesses from coming forward.”
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In a separate statement, Lavine said he was “extraordinarily concerned” by Azzopardi’s statement.
The attorney general’s office told Fox News it was “going to pass on commenting” on the matter. Azzopardi has not responded to Fox News’ request for comment.
Cuomo’s acting counsel Beth Garvey defended Azzopardi’s words as being protected by freedom of speech.
“There is a clear difference between actionable retaliation and protected speech and it is clear that the Chairman doesn’t understand the difference,” Garvey said.
On Saturday, Cuomo sat for questioning before investigators in the attorney general’s sexual harassment probe.
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The New York Democrat has been accused by at least eight women of sexual misconduct, including unwanted touching, inappropriate remarks, and creating an uncomfortable work environment for female staffers.
The investigators have already spoken to Cuomo’s accusers, and it is believed that the investigation could be in the final stages.
Fox News’ Andrew Mark Miller contributed to this report.