President Joe Biden called on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to resign on Tuesday, joining a slew of congressional Democrats and Republicans.
“Yes,” Biden said when asked by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins if Cuomo should step down in light of the investigation released Tuesday by New York attorney general’s office, which found that the governor sexually harassed 11 women.
Biden did not weigh in on a possible impeachment.
“Let’s take one thing at a time here, I think he should resign,” he said.
“Look, I’m not gonna flyspeck this. I’m sure there were some embraces that were totally innocent,” Biden added. “But apparently the attorney general decided there were things that weren’t.”
This story is developing. Please check back for updates.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo used photos of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama comforting hurricane victims to defend himself against the state attorney general’s report on Tuesday that he sexually harassed multiple women.
An attorney for Cuomo, Rita Glavin, included more than 40 photos of Cuomo and other lawmakers hugging and kissing various people in an 85-page statement released Tuesday afternoon. Glavin used some of the photos to defend Cuomo against an allegation by Sherry Vill, a flood victim, that Cuomo “forcibly” kissed her and “manhandled” her while visiting her property after a 2017 flood.
“The Governor’s embrace of Ms. Vill occurred during an attempt to comfort her during a difficult time, while the two of them were surrounded by her family and the press,” the statement read. “The Governor’s interactions with Ms. Vill are not different than thousands of similar interactions that he and other politicians have had with numerous victims of natural disasters and other tragedies.”
The defense points to a 2012 photo of Obama hugging a tearful female victim of Hurricane Sandy and a 2005 photo of Bush hugging Sandra Patterson, whose Mississippi home was destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
“I felt he was coming on to me in my own home,” Vill said. “I felt like I was being manhandled.”
Vill told media outlets and the attorney general’s investigators that Cuomo kissed her without her consent on both cheeks and called her “beautiful” in front of her son and others. The investigators wrote that Vill’s account of being grabbed by the face and kissed was similar to other complainant’s accounts. Vill was not among the 11 named women who the report found made credible allegations of sexual misconduct against Cuomo.
“Perhaps sensing her discomfort, Ms. Vill informed us that [Cuomo] said something along the lines of ‘That’s what Italians do-kiss both cheeks,'” the investigators wrote.
The statement included several other photos of Obama, President Joe Biden, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and other top lawmakers embracing each other and constituents.
During a televised statement on Tuesday, Cuomo insisted that he touches people’s faces and hugs them to “convey warmth and nothing more.”
“You can find hundreds of pictures of me making the same gesture with hundreds of people: women, men, children, et cetera,” Cuomo said. “You can go find hundreds of pictures of me kissing people, men, women. It is my usual and customary way of greeting.”
The attorney general’s investigation, which was conducted by independent attorneys, found that Cuomo violated both federal and state law by sexually harassing multiple female members of his own staff, state employees, and a state trooper. It also found that Cuomo and his aides retaliated against at least one former aide after she made her allegations public.
“The independent investigation found that Governor Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, many of whom were young women, by engaging in unwanted groping, kisses, hugging, and by making inappropriate comments,” Attorney General Letitia James said during a press conference on Tuesday.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday rejected damning sexual assault allegations against him in part by showing a montage of him touching and kissing various people over the years.
“I’ve been making the same gesture in public all my life … It is meant to convey warmth and nothing more,” Cuomo said during a lengthy press conference. “There are hundreds if not thousands of photos of me using the exact same gesture. I do it with everyone.”
Cuomo played the montage after referencing a New York Times report on a woman who said he made an unwanted advance on her at a wedding in September 2019 by touching her face and kissing her on the cheek.
The New York governor said there were “generational” and “cultural” perspectives he hadn’t “fully appreciated” in making such gestures.
“I do kiss people on the forehead. I do kiss people on the cheek. I do kiss people on the hand. I do embrace people. I do hug people. Men and women … I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that, frankly, I hadn’t fully appreciated. And I have learned from this,” Cuomo said.
In a 168-page report, investigators in the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James wrote that Cuomo “sexually harassed a number of current and former New York State employees by, among other things, engaging in unwelcome and nonconsensual touching, as well as making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women.”
James on Tuesday applauded the women who’ve come forward with allegations against Cuomo. “I am inspired by all the brave women who came forward, but more importantly I believe them,” she said.
Cuomo has repeatedly pushed back on the allegations against him, and continued to do so on Tuesday. “I want you to know directly from me that I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances,” the New York governor said.
There are growing calls for Cuomo to resign.
If you are a survivor of sexual assault, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) or visit their website to receive confidential support.
When Jason Cianciotto and his husband signed up their newly adopted son for the Albert Shanker School for the Visual Performing Arts, they thought it seemed like the perfect fit for him.
“Shortly after coming home with us, he came out to us as gay,” Cianciotto told Insider. “So we thought that there was also a good chance that a school that focused on the performing arts might also have other students who were out or, at the very least, it would be a safe and welcoming environment for kids like my son.”
They were mistaken.
What followed, Cianciatto said, was two “horrific” years of homophobic bullying and physical attacks by students and victim-blaming from senior staff at the school.
Now, Cianciotto, who is the senior managing director at a global non-profit, and his husband are seeking “justice” by suing the New York City Department of Education (DoE), the Board of Education (BoE) for New York City Public Schools, and several employees at the school their adopted son attended between 2017 and 2019.
‘His dream of being adopted… was finally coming true’
Cianciotto and his husband began the foster-to-adopt process with their son, who will be referred to as “Daniel,” to protect his privacy in 2017.
Daniel had a troubled start to life, according to legal documents seen by Insider. His biological parents were addicted to drugs and alcohol, and domestic abuse was commonplace in their home. He was placed into the child protection system at 7-years-old.
Daniel struggled with diagnoses of PTSD, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, and epilepsy, as well as several learning disabilities resulting from a brain tumor, and was repeatedly abandoned by foster parents.
But when Cianciotto and his husband, who asked not to be named, came along, things started to look up for the 11-year-old boy.
“His dream of being adopted and having a forever family and, on top of that, having a family of two dads that were so welcoming and accepting of him was finally coming true,” Cianciotto said.
Daniel’s new parents deliberated over which school to send him to, hoping to find an environment that he could “learn and grow… free from fear and abuse.” They chose to enroll him in sixth grade at Intermediate School 126 (I.S. 126), better known as the Albert Shanker School for Visual and Performing Arts, in Long Island City in September 2017.
Daniel was blamed for bringing the homophobic abuse on himself
Cianciotto said the school was a “hostile and dangerous environment” for their son from the get-go. “He came out to his classmates and teachers shortly after the school year began, and right away the bullying, harassment based on his sexual orientation, and perceived gender identity began,” he added.
A 45-page lawsuit filed in a New York district court cites many examples of homophobic abuse directed at Daniel while at the Long Island City public school.
He was allegedly called several homophobic slurs, including “faggot ass,” “gay boy,” and “pussy dick sucking face.” He was ridiculed and was told that he was “damned to hell by God because of his lifestyle,” the complaint continued.
He was also physically assaulted on several occasions, according to Cianciotto.
The bullying had a profound impact on Daniel’s mental health, his father added.
“He started, for example, self-harming behavior, where he would bite himself, he would hit his head with his hand or hit his hand against a desk or a locker at school. He would poke his fingers in his eyes,” he said. “Eventually, that self-harming turned into saying that he wanted to die by suicide.”
The parents tried to speak to the school about the bullying but a meeting with the sixth-grade dean allegedly resulted in Daniel being blamed for bringing the homophobic abuse on himself.
“We were shocked and horrified to hear her say that talking about homosexuality in middle school is not appropriate and that if my son just stopped talking about his sexual orientation or that he was getting adopted by two gay dads, then it wouldn’t be a problem,” Cianciotto said.
‘They accused him of fabricating the harassment’
Daniel and his parents alerted school administrators to the homophobic bullying but, according to the complaint, the school staff repeatedly flouted their legal obligation to document and investigate several reports of harassment.
Under New York State’s Dignity for All Students Act, the Board of Education mandates that school employees who witness or learn about harassment, bullying, or discrimination must report it to administrators. If “substantiated,” these reports must then be investigated and appropriate action must be taken to remedy them.
Cianciotto said that the school found excuses not to investigate several incidents of bullying and discrimination.
“They accused him of fabricating the harassment, blamed him for bringing the bullying on himself by being open about his sexuality, and excused his bullies’ pronouncements that LGBT people are destined to burn in hell as a mere ‘difference of opinion’ that [Daniel] should learn to respect,” the complaint reads.
“There’s a very clear difference between helping young people learn and understand and respect various religious beliefs and traditions and allowing there to be religious-based bullying and harassment,” Cianciotto added.
Another incident, in which Daniel was called a homophobic slur, wasn’t considered substantiated enough to be investigated because it was decided that a student knew no better, according to the complaint.
“Even though it was confirmed that a student called him a faggot, the dean investigating it said that it wasn’t actually a bias incident because the students who said it didn’t have the contextual understanding to go to know what that meant,” Cianciatto said.
The father told Insider that other homophobic attacks were overlooked because teachers claimed they could not corroborate the information.
‘We needed to find a safer school for him’
In May 2019, an incident was deemed to be substantial enough for the school to log. Daniel received notes in class. One called him a “gay bitch,” and the other said: “Because you don’t love Jesus your [sic] an asshole . . . you [sic] going to hell you white idiot.”
A dean notified Cianciotto of the incident by email. However, according to the complaint, the school took no action beyond sending letters to the parents of all those involved.
On May 22, 2019. Cianciotto and his husband arranged to speak to the school principal, Alexander Enguiera, who turned down Insider’s recent request for an interview. In a meeting also attended by the assistant principal and the seventh-grade dean, Daniel’s parents said they were left deeply disappointed.
“Not only did they say that they couldn’t put him in a different class or reasonably ensure that the bullying would stop, they also confronted me, saying that the parents of kids who had bullied him were putting pressure on the school and ask why it was that my son was getting ‘special attention,'” said Cianciotto.
The meeting made it clear that they needed to find a safer school for their son. Daniel was pulled out of school and an emergency transfer to a new school was approved.
“These allegations are deeply troubling and there is absolutely zero tolerance for bullying or harassment of any kind in our schools,” a spokesperson for the New York City DoE told Insider in an email statement. “Every student deserves to feel safe, welcomed, and affirmed in their school and we have invested in training and support to reform classroom culture, with a focus on inclusive policies and effective strategies to prevent bullying,” the statement continued.
“The safety of our students is our number one priority and we will review the complaint and immediately investigate the claims,” the spokesperson added.
The school had bullying rates significantly above the district average
Cianciotto and his attorneys are now seeking to hold the Albert Shanker school and the DoE and BoE accountable for the bullying Daniel experienced.
“We want to do everything we can to make sure that other kids like my son don’t experience this kind of bullying,” Cianciotto said.
Daniel, who is now 14, is at a middle school in the same district. “The difference is night and day,” his father said.
The complaint highlights that the Albert Shanker school had bullying rates significantly above the district average while Daniel attended it, according to the Department of Education’s School Quality Surveys.
The 2018-2019 survey outlines that 42% of respondents said that students harass, bully or intimidate each other based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation, compared to 24% elsewhere in the district.
This highlights the school’s notable failings, according to the complaint.
“What that really highlighted for us is that it’s very possible and actually is safe in some schools for kids where bullying is addressed quickly and stopped, and the law is followed,” Cianciotto reflected.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez mocked Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik for simultaneously celebrating Medicare and Medicaid and condemning “Socialist healthcare schemes” in a tweet on Friday.
Stefanik, who recently replaced Rep. Liz Cheney as the number three House Republican, called on Americans “to reflect on the critical role these programs have played to protect the healthcare of millions of families” on the 56th anniversary of the two healthcare programs. But, she added, “to safeguard our future, we must reject Socialist healthcare schemes.”
Critics quickly pointed out the irony in celebrating the government programs, while arguing that expanding them would lead to “socialism.” Ocasio-Cortez poked fun at Stefanik’s remarks by urging the Republican to support Medicare-for-all to “own the socialists.”
“Totally agree,” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted, sharing Stefanik’s message. “In fact, to further protect Medicare from socialism, let’s strengthen it to include dental, vision, hearing, & mental healthcare and then allow all Americans to enjoy its benefits. Trust me, Medicare for All is the #1 thing you can do to own the socialists.”
Other critics pointed out the contradiction in calling Medicare and Medicaid “critical” in protecting healthcare, but simultaneously denouncing any efforts to ensure more Americans benefit from the programs.
Major government social safety net programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, were denounced by many conservatives as “socialism” when Congress signed them into law more than a half-century ago. In the 1960s, Ronald Reagan claimed that Medicare would lead to socialism.
But in the decades since, these government programs have come to be embraced by the vast majority of Americans, including many conservatives. Former President Donald Trump repeatedly promised to protect all three programs during his 2016 presidential campaign. But once in office, he proposed massive cuts to the programs, none of which were passed by Congress.
Cuomo, a Democrat, also announced that all state workers will need to either get vaccinated or be tested on a weekly basis.
The spread of the Delta variant has created new concerns as cases of the disease rise after falling amid increased vaccinations earlier this year. The CDC on Tuesday introduced new guidance for masking, recommending that fully-vaccinated individuals resume wearing face masks indoors in areas with a high spread of the disease. It previously said vaccinated people could go unmasked in most settings.
Cuomo on Wednesday said state officials were considering the new CDC guidance and urged people to wear masks in public, although he did not announce a new masking requirement. He said local leaders should “seriously consider” the CDC guidance.
Neighborhood-watch app Citizen is offering up to $25 an hour for people to livestream crime scenes in New York City and Los Angeles, according to a report by The New York Post.
The app, which describes itself as a “personal safety network,” sends real-time safety alerts to users, letting them know about crimes, accidents, and emergencies. Users can view reports on a map.
The incidents are based on recent 911 calls, with photos and videos uploaded by volunteers who happen to be nearby – but the app is now advertising for “field team members” on journalism job sites, The Post reported.
The work would include interviewing witnesses and police officials and reporting “behind police tape,” per the job listings.
Third-party casting agency Flyover Entertainment posted a job listing on JournalismJobs.com Thursday looking for “field team members” who would work at an unnamed “tech company with user-generated content,” The Post reported.
Michael Yates, the owner of Flyover, wouldn’t confirm to The Post that the listing was for Citizen, saying: “I’d violate my NDA and they’d rightfully fire me.”
The Post said that the listing was removed from the website after it contacted Yates and Citizen about the vacancies, but that a Citizen spokesperson confirmed that Yates had been hired on behalf of the company, and sent The Post a link to a near-identical listing on the same site, which is still live.
“Citizen has teams in place in some of the cities where the app is available to demonstrate how the platform works, and to model responsible broadcasting practices in situations when events are unfolding in real time,” the spokeswoman said.
Field team members would earn $250 a day for 10-hour shifts in Los Angeles, and $200 a day for eight-hour shifts in New York City, per the listings.
The company didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
The job listings said that the hires, who would be expected to work four or five days a week, would be “dispatched” to cover events including house fires and reports of missing children, and that they should interview police officials and witnesses on-scene wherever possible.
“You will be the app’s official on-the-ground presence, generating live content to give users real-time information on what’s going on in their city as it unfolds,” both job listings said.
The listings added that the hires would be “behind established media lines, behind police tape,” and that they would “never” be asked to go to an “actively dangerous location.”
The app, which says it has 7 million users in more than 30 cities, now has plans to launch a private-security service that would let users deploy security teams to residences and crime scenes, Vice’s Motherboard reported in May.
Investment banks are scrambling to divert Chinese IPOs away from the US market and into Hong Kong as the government’s crackdown on foreign listings spreads, according to a Financial Times report.
Regulators’ harsh response to China’s last major foreign IPO, that of Didi Chuxing, has forced the 20 or so Chinese companies that had plans to go public in New York to re-evaluate.
Bankers who spoke with the FT said clients are exploring moving listings to Hong Kong but are also wary of the hurdles. Hong Kong-specific regulatory requirements and the inherent uncertainty of going first were among the leading concerns.
“We’re speaking to everyone about it,” one Hong Kong-based investment banker told the FT. “If you want to do a deal this year, at best you’ll be delayed until 2022 and at worst you won’t be able to do it.”
The move toward Hong Kong is an abrupt shift for corporate China. 34 Chinese firms raised $12.4 billion in New York capital markets in the first half of this year, according to Dealogic data previously reported by the FT.
In the wake of Didi’s NYSE debut, China’s cybersecurity ministry alleged the company had violated privacy laws and launched an investigation into its data practices. The action took Didi’s stock price down sharply the day of the announcement.
Data-oriented companies have been most eager to plan for Hong Kong listings, in large part because the mainland government’s crackdown has centered around data privacy. Moving to Hong Kong could abate some of that scrutiny, two bankers told the FT.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez clapped back at lawmakers who opposed her legislation to combat the climate crisis while sharing harrowing videos of flooding in New York City.
New York state and New Jersey faced torrential downpours as Tropical Storm Elsa makes its way up the northeast coast, leading to flooded streets and underground subway stations.
The congresswoman from New York shared a video of commuters wading in waist-deep water in subway stations, calling out lawmakers who are against her Green New Deal proposal.
“‘The Green New Deal, which is a blueprint to create millions of good jobs rebuilding infrastructure to stem climate change & protect vulnerable communities, is unrealistic,'” Ocasio-Cortez tweeted Thursday with a video. “‘Instead we will do the adult thing, which is take orders from fossil fuel execs &make (sic) you swim to work.'”
Ocasio-Cortez appeared to be referencing a leaked secret video in which a senior Exxon lobbyist said the company attempted to weaken President Joe Biden’s climate agenda by engaging in climate denialism through so-called “shadow groups” and targeted influential lawmakers to manipulate public opinion on the ongoing climate crisis, The New York Times reported.
In a follow-up tweet with a video of the Major Deegan Expressway in New York City underwater, Ocasio-Cortez wrote: “I’m so glad the filibuster is here to fix this oh wait.”
The threat of a GOP filibuster looms over Biden’s infrastructure deal, which incorporates initiatives focused on combatting the climate crisis. The deal is currently on two tracks – one that bypasses the filibuster through budget reconciliation and requires a simple majority (50 Democrats plus the vice president) to. pass, and the other bipartisan track that could likely end up with more than 60 “yes” votes to withstand the filibuster.
This isn’t the first time the progressive congresswoman called out those who are resistant to addressing the climate crisis. Last week, she pointed to a shocking video of the Gulf of Mexico on fire after an oil pipeline rupture as evidence of a need to fund the Green New Deal.
“Shout out to all the legislators going out on dinner dates with Exxon lobbyists so they can say a Green New Deal is too expensive,” she tweeted with a thumbs-up emoji.
In an announcement before gun control advocacy groups and clergy leaders on Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a series of executive orders and legislative priorities to reduce gun violence.
Cuomo did not take questions at the event and was light on specifics for much of his PowerPoint presentation. His announcement comes after at least 140 people died in shootings across the United States over the Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Major components of the Cuomo executive orders include:
Declaring a state of emergency that frees up state agencies to spend money more quickly on gun-related programs.
Requiring police departments, including the NYPD, to collect more detailed incident data when responding to shootings.
Forming a New York State Police “special unit” to target gun trafficking, coordinating with New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania to share data on traffic stops.
Ending immunity for gun manufacturers, an exemption created by the Bush administration in the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act. Cuomo said he will sign a bill later in the day reinstating public nuisance liability for gun manufacturers.
Creating a state partnership with the John Jay College of Criminal Justice to share “best practices” with local police departments on preventing gun violence.
Directing the State Division of Criminal Justice Services to issue new regulations preventing police officers with misconduct records from getting jobs at other departments in the state.
Investing $138.7 million to community gun violence prevention efforts.
Cuomo showed statistics on how shootings are up 38% in the first six months of 2021 compared to 2020, warning that a fear of violence is keeping the business community from bringing more workers back to the office in the Big Apple. The governor’s presentation contradicted New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s from earlier in the day, where the mayor cautioned against “fear mongering” and showed NYPD data on shootings being down 20% in June 2021 compared to June 2020.
The executive orders are part of a “disaster emergency” declaration, Cuomo said, touting New York as the first state in the nation to do so.
Cuomo also said he will wage a “border war” to stop the flow of illegal guns into New York from “the South.”
“We announced today a border war, and the border war is we’re going to stop guns coming in through our borders and into our cities,” he said. “We know where they’re coming from. They’re coming from the South, and we’re going to declare a border war to stop it.”
The governor also joked that he would build a wall on the state border with his name on it, apparently mocking former President Donald Trump whose hardline stance on immigration involved a still-incomplete wall along the US-Mexico border.