Former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday accused Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple and state Attorney General Letitia James of epitomizing the “worst combination of politics, incompetence, and abuse of the law” after he was charged with misdemeanor forcible touching last week.
Forcible touching, a class A misdemeanor in New York state, can carry a maximum sentence of one year in jail or three years probation.
The Democrat was charged with the misdemeanor following a criminal complaint filed by Apple accusing Cuomo of groping Brittany Commisso, a former staffer, in an unlawful manner, and that he allegedly did “knowingly, and intentionally commit the class A misdemeanor of Forcible Touching.”
Cuomo, who resigned earlier this year, has repeatedly denied the allegations during media appearances.
In a press release on Sunday, Cuomo took aim at both Apple and state Attorney General Letitia James. Cuomo authorized James to look into claims that he had sexually harassed several women, namely staffers who had worked for him, months before he stepped down from office in August.
Independent investigators she had hired then released a report in August 2021 that said there were credible allegations against Cuomo, although she didn’t file any charges against him.
James announced Friday that she is running for governor of New York, just one day after she also praised Apple’s decision to charge Cuomo, saying in a statement that, “the criminal charges brought today against Mr. Cuomo for forcible touching further validate the findings in our report.”
“In the last 72 hours, Sheriff Apple and Tish James have epitomized the worst combination of politics, incompetence and abuse of the law,” Cuomo said in Sunday’s press release.
“In an unprecedented move, Sheriff Apple filed charges against Governor Cuomo without the authorization of or coordination with the District Attorney, provoking condemnation and outrage from legal experts nationwide,” the press release reads.
“Apple DID, however, admit he had been coordinating with Tish James. Tish James publicly praised his actions, using it to validate her sham report while announcing a run for Governor the same day! These political bedfellows are abusing their office and putting their agenda over their ethical and constitutional duty, and no one is buying it,” Cuomo continued.
Cuomo also claimed that there was “zero evidence” to corroborate Commisso’s allegations.
“Politics is to be kept separate from law enforcement,” the release continues. “Citizens choose their leaders in elections not by political prosecution of opponents. That is the cardinal rule James and Apple have violated and justice dictates that it must be corrected,” the former governor added.
On Saturday, Cuomo’s lawyer Rita Glavin sent a letter to Apple asking that the sheriff’s office “preserve all records relating to your investigation into allegations concerning the Governor and take all necessary steps to ensure such records are preserved.”
Glavin asked that records including correspondence with two legal teams that investigated Cuomo’s conduct be preserved too.
Apple told The New York Post on Saturday that he expected the request for the preservation of such communications, and called Cuomo’s team “bullies.”
“They’re bullies. They keep doing what they do, and we’re going to continue to move forward with our investigation. People can see through that smoke screen. We’ve tried to keep this from being a circus but they’ve turned it into a circus,” Apple said.
Jack Phillips contributed to this report.