CNN host Chris Cuomo used his sources in the media world to seek information on women who accused his brother Andrew Cuomo, then the governor of New York, of sexual harassment, according to documents released Monday by the New York Attorney General’s Office.
While Chris Cuomo has previously acknowledged advising his brother and his team on the response to the scandals, the records show that his role in helping the then-governor was much larger and more intimate than previously known.
Chris Cuomo was actively in touch with Melissa DeRosa, who was the then-governor’s top aide, about incoming media reports that detailed alleged sexual harassment by Andrew Cuomo, according to exhibits from the Attorney General’s probe and a transcript of his interview with the state’s investigators. He also lobbied to help the governor’s office as it sought to weather the storm of accusations, and he dictated statements for the then-governor to use.
“Please let me help with the prep,” Chris Cuomo said to DeRosa in one message in early March. Then, three days after the New York Times reported in March about how Andrew Cuomo attempted to kiss a woman, Anna Ruch, in an unwanted advance at a wedding, Chris Cuomo texted DeRosa: “I have a lead on the wedding girl.”
CNN issued a comment hours after the publication of this article, saying the news organization would be reviewing the documents.
“The thousands of pages of additional transcripts and exhibits that were released today by the NY Attorney General deserve a thorough review and consideration,” CNN spokesman Matt Dornic said. “We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”
Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, resigned in August after state Attorney General Letitia James, who is now running for governor herself, issued her report on the alleged misconduct. Andrew Cuomo has continued to deny wrongdoing. Chris Cuomo has previously said that he wasn’t an official advisor to his brother, but he did acknowledge he counseled him and that he was one of the people who encouraged the governor to step down.
Chris Cuomo told investigators that he engaged with what he described as “sources” regarding the various allegations against his brother that were described in at least one news article, according to the records. He also said he talked to his sources about yet-to-be-published stories from media outlets.
“I would – when asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out,” Cuomo told investigators.
Chris Cuomo did give investigators the name of the source who talked to him about Ruch, but the Attorney General’s office chose to redact the name of the individual.
“And so you heard from someone some information about Anna Ruch. Who is the person you heard information from?” the investigators asked Chris Cuomo, according to the transcript. “A source,” Chris Cuomo said.
He said that someone had called him who knew the bride’s family, and that a friend of his had heard that “maybe she had been put up to it.” It’s unclear whether Cuomo was referring to Ruch or someone else. There were no further details of that incident included in the transcript. An attorney for DeRosa did not respond to a request for comment. Ruch could not be reached.
Chris Cuomo, 51, also guided DeRosa on writing statements for his older brother, who will turn 64 next week.
On March 12, Chris Cuomo sent a text message to DeRosa with a full written statement for the governor.
“I will not resign, I cannot resign,” the texted statement reads. “I understand the political pressure I understand the stakes of political warfare, and that’s what this is… And I understand the conformity that can be forced by cancel culture,” it also says.
A text message sent by DeRosa to Cuomo on March 9 shows a potential statement by his office about the Attorney General’s investigation. Cuomo’s responded “lose last,” as his suggestion to the statement.
In the message, Chris Cuomo seems to suggest to investigators that he meant to encourage DeRosa to take out the final line of the proposed statement, which read, “The governor’s previous statement that he has never touched anyone inappropriately stands.”
“Well, either you’re telling us the truth or you’re not telling us the truth. And to me, that sounds like political speak, you know, like, media speak. And I don’t think that that’s the right way to behave in those situations,” the CNN anchor explained to investigators his rationale for altering the statement.
Also in March, DeRosa texted Chris Cuomo: “Rumor going around from politico 1-2 more ppl coming out tomorrow. Can u check your sources?” The CNN primetime host responded: “On it.” He subsequently texted her: “No one has heard that yet.”
DeRosa and Chris Cuomo also discussed in March a yet-to-be published story from New Yorker investigative reporter Ronan Farrow. The article ran March 18.
Prior to that, DeRosa asked Chris Cuomo to check with his sources about the Farrow piece. The records do not show a direct response from Chris Cuomo agreeing to check with his sources. But on March 14, four days be the story was published, he texted DeRosa: “If If ronan has nothing better than boylan thats a great sign.”
“Did u get any more intel?,” DeRosa asked him a day later. “Story not ready for tomorrow,” Chris Cuomo responded that day.
Cuomo told investigators he spoke with “another journalist” about the soon-to-be-released Farrow story. Although he said he did not call Farrow about it, he said his efforts to speak to a fellow journalist about an upcoming story were “business-as-usual.”
Lindsey Boylan, a former Andrew Cuomo aide, was the focus of Farrow’s story. Among multiple other accusations, Boylan said the governor told her, “Let’s play strip poker,” while on a private plane.