CNN said Monday that it will evaluate new information that sheds light on how anchor Chris Cuomo sought to help his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, amid a flurry of sexual misconduct allegations earlier this year.
The new information, which included a cache of new documents and transcripts of interviews with investigators, was released Monday by the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James, which led the investigation into allegations against the governor.
The documents indicated that the scope of how the anchor aimed to help his brother was more considerable and that he was more intimately involved than previously known, prompting CNN to initiate a review of the material.
“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 said in a statement. “We will be having conversations and seeking additional clarity about their significance as they relate to CNN over the next several days.”
It was first revealed in May that Chris Cuomo had participated in strategy calls to help advise his brother. CNN said at the time that it was “inappropriate” for him to engage in conversations about his brother’s crisis and the anchor “will not participate in such conversations going forward.” CNN stopped short of issuing a suspension.
The documents released Monday included text messages between Chris Cuomo and Melissa DeRosa, a former top aide to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, that suggested he was instrumental in working to craft a defense against a flood of sexual misconduct allegations.
The text messages also revealed that Chris Cuomo sought to use his connections in the press to help prepare the then-governor’s team as accusers started to make their stories public.
“Can you check your sources,” DeRosa asked on March 7.
“On it,” Chris Cuomo replied.
Chris Cuomo also acknowledged to investigators that he did attempt to learn more about a story by journalist Ronan Farrow. The anchor defended the practice as conventional.
“The idea of one reporter calling another to find out about what’s coming down the pipe is completely business-as-usual,” he said.
When Andrew Cuomo resigned as governor in August, Chris Cuomo told CNN viewers that he was “not an advisor,” but “a brother.” He acknowledged that he talked with his brother’s aides and gave his “take” until CNN told him to stop doing so in May.
The “Cuomo Prime Time” anchor also said on the air in August, “I never attacked nor encouraged anyone to attack any woman who came forward. I never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
Monday’s revelations cast some doubt on his statement about his interactions with the press.
“I would — when asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out,” Chris Cuomo said during testimony.
Chris Cuomo also said under oath what he told CNN viewers earlier this year: That he “never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family.”
During the questioning, he reiterated that sentiment, saying, “If I had tried to influence any of the reporting at CNN or anywhere else, I guarantee you people would know, and so would a lot of others.”
In its May statement, CNN had said, “Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes.” The network’s statement added, “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother. However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges. He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
The anchor at the time also took to his show to say that he is “family first and job second” and apologized for how he helped his brother.
“It will not happen again. It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot,” he said. “I never intended for that I would never intend for that and I am sorry for that.”
While a report on the sexual misconduct allegations against Andrew Cuomo was released in August, James’ office continues with a separate investigation into allegations he misused state resources for the development, production and promotion of a book he wrote on the pandemic.
Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Andrew Cuomo, called the latest release of transcripts, documents and videos a “manipulated release.”
“New Yorkers are no one’s fool and James and her colleagues’ obvious misuse of government resources to damage political opponents is as obvious and repugnant as it is unethical and illegal,” Azzopardi said in a statement.
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