New York Attorney General Letitia James’s office released the results of an extensive investigation into allegations of sexual harassment against Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday potentially derailing his political career and continuing to launch her own as some speculate she has eyes on a higher office.
James, a former ally of Cuomo’s, released a 165 page report Tuesday concluding that the governor had sexually harassed multiple women and used his office to intimidate at least one accuser in violation of state and federal law sending shockwaves through the New York political scene and intensifying calls for Cuomo’s resignation which he has so far dismissed.
James’s ascent to the top of the New York political scene has also been aided, in part, by her office’s high publicized investigations into President Donald Trump where she used the power of her office to go after Trump’s involvement in the Jan. 6 Capitol Hill riot as well as launch a “criminal investigation” into Trump’s business dealings with the Trump organization.
Both high-profile moves against prominent New York politicians have prompted many to wonder whether James is eyeing a run against Gov. Cuomo in 2022.
James, 62, is the Empire State’s first black attorney general with solid roots in Brooklyn politics and the organized labor scene in the state. James is well connected with prominent New York Unions, including 1199 SEIU, and could potentially leverage Cuomo’s weakened political strength to pry their support away from the current governor.
Cuomo, through his lawyers via statement on Tuesday, appears to believe that the investigation by James’s office is a political one and referred to it as “utterly biased” and accuses James of “purposely” omitting “key evidence.”
While the attorney general has not formally announced her intention to run for governor, a Siena poll released in May shows her out-performing Cuomo among potential Democratic voters.
In addition to the damaging sexual harassment investigation into her potential gubernatorial opponent, James’s office has been probing allegations that Cuomo’s office intentionally misled the federal government about how many New Yorkers died from the coronavirus in nursing homes following his order last spring forcing nursing homes to accept infected individuals.
An unnamed person familiar with New York politics told Politico earlier this year that Cuomo’s office views that investigation as a “kill shot” that will determine whether or not he keeps his job.
Several New York politicians, including Gov. Cuomo and disgraced former Gov. Eliot Spitzer, have used the attorney general’s office to springboard into the governor’s mansion and James herself joked in February that “AG” stands for “aspiring governor.”
“She’s in a launchpad job, early innings, she would usually be expected to gather more experience before she was a competitive (contender) for governor,” retired SUNY New Paltz political science professor Gerald Benjamin told City & State earlier this year. “But it’s not only the job she’s in – she’s the direct player in the situation. So (her probe) does have a chance to build her a reputation.”
Others close to James have scoffed at the idea that she is eyeing a higher political office including Democratic Assembly Member Catalina Cruz who suggested that race is the reason why some have suggested she wants to be governor.
“I think people need to focus on the fact that we elected an extremely qualified attorney who just happens to be a Black woman,” Cruz said. “If she were a white man no one would be…thinking about what her ambitions are and what they’re not.”
Attorney General James’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.