How Cuomo and His Team Retaliated Against His Accusers


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The governor, who has not left Albany since the report’s release, has continued to lean on his closest aides and his team of lawyers, as he charts a strategy for political survival. Mr. Cuomo spent Wednesday at the Executive Mansion discussing with advisers whether to hold another news conference to further respond to the allegations.

In the governor’s decade-long tenure, he has navigated Albany’s byzantine ways and steered the state’s bureaucracy using brute political force and heavy-handed tactics of bullying and intimidation. He has alienated many people along the way, narrowing his circle of confidants.

Mr. Cuomo’s special counsel, Judith Mogul, who handled complaints from some of the governor’s accusers, resigned this week. On Wednesday, he lost support from key labor leaders and one of his staunchest allies, Jay Jacobs, the chairman of the state’s Democratic Party.

Others had abandoned him earlier this year, as additional women accused the governor of sexual misconduct, and his tone and strategy shifted from apologetic to increasingly defiant. The need for some to distance themselves became more urgent as they realized they would eventually be interviewed in the state attorney general’s investigation, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Josh Vlasto, the governor’s former chief of staff, told investigators that Mr. Cuomo had asked him earlier this year to spearhead the “politics and press operation” of the governor’s overlapping crises. But Mr. Vlasto, who was involved in the deliberations over releasing Ms. Boylan’s file, testified that he declined in part because he disagreed with the negative “style” the governor and his advisers had adopted in responding to the allegations.

Most of the governor’s top aides appeared to be more comfortable with that approach. Indeed, the report found that Mr. Cuomo’s inner circle helped enable the governor’s behavior, fostering a toxic workplace and a culture of retaliation where workers feared retribution for making minor mistakes, seeming disloyal or upsetting Mr. Cuomo.

The fear of retaliation also had a chilling effect: Many of the women who have now accused Mr. Cuomo said it was one of the underlying reasons that they did not immediately report their sexual harassment.


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