CNN announced Tuesday that it has suspended anchor Chris Cuomo "indefinitely" after documents released by New York Attorney General Letitia James' office called into question the role he played in providing advice to his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, as his administration became engulfed in scandal.
Chris Cuomo previously acknowledged being a sounding board for his brother when allegations of sexual harassment first surfaced, but new documents released by the state attorney general’s office revealed his involvement was far more extensive than previously known.
"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," a spokesperson for the network said Tuesday. "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," the CNN spokesperson continued. "But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second."
"However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother's efforts than we previously knew," the spokesperson added. "As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation."
Chris Cuomo addressed what happened on his radio show Tuesday afternoon, before he was suspended.
“I did not want him to resign in the beginning. Because I believed him,” Cuomo said. “And I thought that you don’t resign, you ask for due process. And leave the women alone and let due process take care of the situation.”
According to the new documents, in testimony before investigators, Chris Cuomo was asked whether he assisted in providing evidence that the women accusing his brother were lying.
Chris Cuomo responded, “I would never do oppo research on anybody alleging anything like this. I'm not in the oppo research business.”
But in separate testimony, a witness was asked if Chris Cuomo helped gather evidence to discredit accusers. The investigator said, “This is a text message from Chris Cuomo forwarding a purported set of documents concerning Charlotte Bennett from her time in college.”
Charlotte Bennett was the second former Gov. Cuomo staffer to accuse the governor of harassment.
Melissa DeRosa, the former top aide to Gov. Cuomo, was asked about the moment she confronted Cuomo about Bennett. While holding back tears, she described her reaction.
Q: “Do you need a minute?"
A: “I’m OK.”
Q: “Is this the kind of reaction you had in front of the governor?”
Q: “And you said you were frustrated. What were you frustrated about?”
A: ”I understood, based on my conversation with him and Judy, what his side of it was. And I just — what we’re you thinking?”
Q: “At any point did you raise with the governor what should be done for Ms. Bennett?”
In her video testimony, DeRosa describes how she stormed out of the car with Cuomo and went to go meet a friend.
Video was also released of Cuomo’s testimony, which offers a glimpse into how combative he was at times with his investigators, as he parsed words.
Q: “My question was actually was she a girlfriend of yours?”
A: “She was a friend, how do you want to define girlfriend?”
Q: “Did you date her?”
A: “How do you want to define date?”
Q: “How do you define date?”
A: “It doesn't matter how I define date, how do you define date?”
On Tuesday, the New York Daily News took Cuomo spokesperson Rich Azzopardi to task for lying in an op-Ed column he wrote defending the former governor this past summer.
Azzopardi said investigators asked him ridiculous questions, including whether DeRosa wore heels to the office. That question was never asked.
The Daily News wrote, “No one ever asked Azzopardi about what DeRosa wore. That was a pure fabrication. Azzopardi tells us he spent lots of time prepping, and he must have conflated practice sessions with reality. That’s rich.“
Azzopardi also told multiple reporters he wasn’t allowed to speak to reporters about his testimony under threat of imprisonment, but it turns out that was also not true, according to the attorney general’s office.