How the fallout from Andrew Cuomo’s resignation spread to Jeff Zucker

When before Governor Andrew M. Cuomo of New York facing a waterfall allegation of sexual harassment Last year, his instinct was not just to fight but to hide.

As the stories piled up, Mr. Cuomo came together his inner circleincluding his younger brother, a former CNN employee Chris Cuomoto engineer a ferocious counterattack that included discrediting whistleblowers, attacking unflattering articles, and attributing bald political motives to investigators.

An instinct go to school was a landmark in the governor’s long political career. But in the year since he was first accused of sexual harassment, the tactics have not only backfired for Mr. Cuomo, who Resigned in Augustbut also derailed the career of a burgeoning constellation of powerful people around him.

The remarkable outburst continued on Wednesday as Jeff Zucker, the president of CNN and a longtime communications executive, has been fired. His resignation comes after lawyers for Chris Cuomo, who was fired from the network for his role in his brother’s endeavor, were mentioned. The undisclosed romantic relationship of Mr. with a colleague as their client fought for millions of dollars in severance pay.

Some Cuomos critics see the growing consequences as the natural outcome of the family’s tendency to political war on earth.

“They are known not to take prisoners. This is how they fight, and I think the feeling is, ‘If I go down, you go down,’ said Debra Katz, an attorney representing Charlotte Bennett, One of the women accused the former governor of sexual harassment.

Others who lost their jobs after it was revealed they appeared to help the former governor tarnish a whistleblower include Roberta Kaplan and Tina Tchenformer leaders of Time’s Up, the national organization created to combat sexual abuse; Alphonso David, former president of the Human Rights Campaign, an LGBTQ rights group; and former Cuomo aides, including two who resigned at an influential public relations firm.

Hank Sheinkopf, a political consultant who has worked on alignment campaigns and against the former governor, described the growing outbreak as a “bad movie”.

“Chris Cuomo was beaten. Then Zucker was beaten. The careers of 10 to 12 people who used to work for Andrew Cuomo are ruined. Public service is out of their picture. Insinuations alone are enough to ruin a life or career,” said Mr. Sheinkopf. “And the question is, where does it go next?”

By mentioning Mr. Zucker’s affiliation in their talk with the network, Mr. Cuomo and his attorneys drew criticism that they were engaging in the same belligerent approach he took. his son often used to maintain closeness with Albany for more than a decade.

“If this is a domino effect that starts with Andrew Cuomo leaving the governor’s office, and then Chris Cuomo being fired from CNN, and then Jeff Zucker losing his job at CNN, that’s a remarkable sequence of events. ,” Brian Stelter, the network’s media correspondent, said on Wednesday, adding that Chris Cuomo “didn’t go out quietly” and was probably “trying to burn the place down.”

A spokesman for Chris Cuomo declined to comment.

Since their fall, both Cuomos have continued in vigorous crusades to restore reputations and seek vindication.

The former governor sought out former allies for their thoughts on how he might return to public life, even as most of New York’s political elite, along with voters, seemed to exposed him. (He was seen going out to dinner Tuesday in New York City with Mayor Eric Adams, who had previously called for his resignation, The New York Post reported).

He still has $16 million campaign chestand he shows up more and more in emails to supporters after local district attorney Investigations closed off some of the women’s claims without bringing criminal charges – although many noted they found the women credible.

“We have every intention of fighting until the truth is revealed – and helping others caught up in this apparent criminal misconduct case do the same,” said Richard Azzopardi, The former governor’s spokesman, said, referring to state attorneys general. Letitia James, who led the investigation into the sexual harassment allegations. Mr. Cuomo has accused her of leading a partisan investigation; Ms. James has denied the allegation.

Chris Cuomo, who was fired in December, has strongly opposed the terms of his departure from CNN. The network refused to pay him severance or honor the rest of his current contract, alleging he had committed unethical behavior.

The former presenter has attracted a strong legal team who, in discussions with attorneys for CNN’s parent company, raised the subject of Mr. Zucker’s consensual relationship with Allison Gollust. , CNN’s executive vice president, who – to mark the vastness of the Cuomo family. network – served as Andrew Cuomo’s communications director for a short time for 4 months in 2012 and 2013.

For months, Mr. Zucker resisted pressure to fire the embattled news presenter, even as protests over his brother’s defense grew louder.

Concern began at the height of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2020, when CNN lifted a rule that banned Chris Cuomo from interviewing his brother. At the time, Cuomo’s pandemic press conferences made him a media fixture.

Their online partnership ended last year, when Andrew Cuomo was facing several scandals and investigations. But the public still doesn’t know that Chris Cuomo joined a group to help his brother drop sexual harassment allegations brought by a former assistant, Lindsey Boylan.

Testimony during Ms James’s investigation later showed that the television journalist was on strategic calls with the former governor and his top aides to discuss how to respond to the allegations. I also Contact Melissa DeRosa, the governor’s former top aide, said he “led” a woman, who accused Mr. Cuomo of grabbing her face and making her feel uncomfortable at a wedding; and he checked with his sources in the press to inquire about the status of the damaging stories about his brother.

As part of the assault, the former governor’s top aides also enlisted former employees who had left the private sector but remained reliable allies and appeared willing to help.

It was that effort – which involved leaking Ms Boylan’s personnel files to the press and drafting an unpublished op-ed that attacked her character – that had immediate consequences. best for Andrew Cuomo’s inner orbit.

After the attorney general’s report detailed the retaliation campaign, among the first to be fired were Ms. Kaplan, a nationally known lawyer, and Ms. Tchen, both heads of an organization. against the kind of sexual abuse and gender inequality that Andrew Cuomo’s critics are said to be at the heart of the allegations against him.

Some survivors of sexual abuse said it was a betrayal that the two women joined Cuomo’s defense. As pressure mounted, both Ms. Kaplan and Ms. Tchen resigned, saying their relationship with the former governor had become a divisive one.

David, who proposed editing the opinion piece and providing the governor’s aides with a memo detailing Boylan’s work history, was met with similar outcry from public officials. member and board of directors of the Human Rights Campaign.

Mr. David, who served as a lawyer in the Cuomo administration, has denied wrongdoing. He said he was legally obligated to provide the memo and noted that he refused to sign the op-ed and that he did not know the full extent of the charges against Mr. is being discussed.

However, he was fired from his position as president of the organization for violating its values, a move he has vowed to fight for. On Thursday, Mr. David, the group’s first Black leader, say he is suing and accused the group’s board of racism when he terminated his contract.

In August, Josh Vlasto, who served as chief of staff to the former governor, and Richard Bamberger, his former communications director, leave their jobs at Kivvit, a well-known public relations firm.

The company said at the time that the two supported the former governor on their own behalf, not on behalf of the company. Mr Vlasto, according to testimony from the governor’s top aide, strategized the leak of Ms Boylan’s personnel files, while Mr Bamberger was sought as a middle man to let some reporters know about documents.

Jim Malatras was the dean of the state’s public university system when private text messages emerged showing he had disparaged Ms. Boylan. His messages about Ms Boylan were unrelated to her sexual harassment allegations and were sent 18 months before she went public with her allegations.

However, under increasing pressure, he resigned in December.

Michael M. Grynbaum and John Koblin contributed reporting. How the fallout from Andrew Cuomo’s resignation spread to Jeff Zucker

Fry Electronics Team

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