CNN host Chris Cuomo returned from vacation on Monday and defended advising his brother during a scandal that recently led to the governor resigning.
Chris Cuomo claimed that he did not violate CNN rules that prevented him from covering what he described as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s “troubles.”
“I said last year that his appearances on this show would be short-lived and they were,” he said.
“I also said that a day would come when he would have to be held to account, and I can’t do that. I said, point-blank, I can’t be objective when it comes to my family. So I never reported on the scandal. And when it happened, I tried to be there for my brother. I’m not an adviser. I’m a brother. I wasn’t in control of anything. I was there to listen and offer my take.”
Investigators tapped by New York Attorney General Letitia James, a Democrat, found evidence supporting claims of sexual harassment and assault against Gov. Cuomo, a Democrat.
“Gov. Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed current and former New York state employees by engaging in unwelcome and non-consensual touching and making numerous offensive comments of a suggestive and sexual nature that created a hostile work environment for women,” James told a press conference last month announcing the findings.
Gov. Cuomo, who said last week he was resigning, was advised after some of the women came forward in the spring by a group that included Chris Cuomo, investigators said in their report.
Chris Cuomo at one point counseled his brother to express contrition after allegations from Charlotte Bennett, a former Gov. Cuomo aide, were detailed in the press, according to the report.
Chris Cuomo appeared to help draft a statement that his brother later released regarding the allegations.
“We also find it revealing and consistent with the Executive Chamber’s overall approach that, when faced with allegations of sexual harassment brought against the Governor, the inner circle of confidantes brought in to control and direct the response included a number of individuals with no official role in the Executive Chamber,” investigators said, including Chris Cuomo.
“None of them was officially retained in any capacity by the Executive Chamber or any of the individuals involved. Nonetheless, they were regularly provided with confidential and often privileged information about state operations and helped make decisions that impacted State business and employees—all without any formal role, duty, or obligation to the State,” they wrote.
Ethics experts criticized how Chris Cuomo hosted his brother multiple times last year as the governor faced questions on an order that forced many nursing homes to take in COVID-19-positive patients. The pair made waves for laughing and joking during one of the worst times of the pandemic. Chris Cuomo at one point appeared at one of his brother’s official press conferences.
Chris Cuomo apologized in May, but both he and CNN refused to answer questions about what happened after the new report was released. Chris Cuomo soon went on what the network referred to as a pre-planned vacation.
On Monday, Chris Cuomo said he did advise his brother.
“And my advice to my brother was simple and consistent—own what you did, tell people what you’ll try to do to be better, be contrite and, finally, accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended, what matters is how your actions and your words are perceived,” he said. “And, yes, while it was something I never imagined having to do, I did urge my brother to resign.”
The CNN host added that he never made calls to other members of the press about his brother’s situation and never tried to control his network’s coverage of his family.
“It was a unique situation being a brother to a politician in a scandal and being part of the media. I tried to do the right thing and I just want you all to know that,” he said.