By Dominick Mastrangelo
CNN has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo indefinitely following new revelations about his involvement in the harassment case against his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense,” CNN said in a statement to The Hill on Tuesday evening.
“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second,” the network said. “However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
The network said on Monday evening it would conduct a “thorough review” of documents made public by the New York attorney general’s office as part of its investigation into the former governor, who resigned under pressure in August after state Attorney General Letitia James (D) detailed sexual harassment allegations against him from nearly a dozen women. The documents show Cuomo texting with former top aides to his brother, asking to be included in the planning of his crisis public relations campaign after the allegations were made. In one text message exchange in March, Melissa DeRosa, one of the former governor’s closest confidants, asked Chris Cuomo to “check with his sources” in the media about additional women coming forward against the governor.
“On it,” Cuomo replied, according to the documents. In another text message, Cuomo told DeRosa he had “a lead on the wedding girl,” in an apparent reference to a woman who accused Cuomo of touching her inappropriately at a wedding they both attended.
News of Chris Cuomo’s participation in the crisis PR sessions were first reported in May. In August, during an on-air apology, Cuomo said he “never made calls to the press about my brother’s situation.”
“And as you know, back in May when I was told to no longer communicate with my brother’s aides in any group meetings, I acknowledged it was a mistake, I apologized to my colleagues, I stopped, and I meant it,” he
said. “I never influenced or attempted to control CNN’s coverage of my family,” he said at the time.
When news of Chris Cuomo participating in strategy sessions with his brother was first made public, CNN President Jeff Zucker reportedly told employees at the network “there are not special rules for Chris,” adding “he is human and these are very unique circumstances.”
Zucker declined to suspend Cuomo at that time, saying doing so would be “punishment for the sake of punishing.”
Cuomo did not acknowledge the newly revealed documents or CNN’s announced investigation of him during his show on Monday.
By Dominick Mastrangelo