New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo's executive assistant broke her silence in an interview that aired Monday, less than a week after the state attorney general released a damning report saying the governor sexually harassed 11 women. The report has sparked renewed calls for Cuomo's resignation, an impeachment inquiry by the New York State Assembly, and multiple criminal probes from prosecutors.
Brittany Commisso, who was identified only as "Executive Assistant #1" in the AG's report, came forward in an interview with CBS This Morning and the Albany Times Union, days after she filed a criminal complaint against Cuomo with the Albany County Sheriff's Office.
She alleged that Cuomo groped her twice: once when he rubbed her butt while they were taking a selfie in December 2019 and a second time when he groped her breast while hugging her in his private office at the governor's mansion last November.
"What he did was a crime," Commisso said in the interview. "He broke the law."
"The governor needs to be held accountable," she added.
Commisso also called for him to resign and said that he needed to seek counseling.
Albany County Sheriff Craig Apple said Saturday that he has started a criminal investigation based on Commisso's complaint last week. Apple said that while the investigation was in its very early stages, Cuomo could be facing misdemeanor charges.
Cuomo has denied all accusations against him. He has refused to submit to calls for his resignation, including one from President Joe Biden, even as those who helped him fight against the allegations are facing the consequences.
Cuomo’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, resigned on Sunday night, and Roberta Kaplan, the chair of Time’s Up — a charity supporting sexual assault survivors — resigned Monday, after the AG’s report said both women were involved in efforts to discredit one of Cuomo’s alleged victims, Lindsey Boylan. The Human Rights Campaign — the largest LGBTQ advocacy group in the country — said it was investigating the role its director, Alphonso David, played in retaliating against Boylan.
On Monday, members of New York State Assembly's Judiciary Committee met as part of the impeachment inquiry against Cuomo.
Charles Lavine, a member of the state Assembly and chair of the Judiciary Committee, said Monday that he expected the impeachment investigation to conclude "very soon" — likely in several weeks — after which the committee would make a recommendation to the state Assembly on whether to draft articles of impeachment against Cuomo.
Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie said he was "heartbroken" and that "no one should have to endure the type of behavior detailed in the Attorney General's report."
"As I stated last week, the governor has clearly lost the confidence of the Assembly majority," Heastie said.
He noted that this was the first time in more than 100 years that the Assembly was undertaking an impeachment investigation of a sitting governor.
Apart from the ongoing impeachment investigation, the state Assembly's outside counsel is also conducting an independent inquiry into multiple allegations against Cuomo, including those involving sexual misconduct and his related retaliation, as well as his handling of COVID-19 cases in nursing homes.
In her interview, Commisso described how Cuomo would hug and kiss her inappropriately and without her consent.
"These were not hugs that he would give his mother or his brother," she said. "These were hugs with the intention of getting some personal sexual satisfaction out of."
Commisso accused the governor of lying when he told investigators that she initiated their hugs.
In prerecorded remarks responding to the AG's report last week, Cuomo said he kisses everyone as a gesture of "warmth" but denied sexually harassing anyone.
Commisso said his behavior was “not normal” to her or the other women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.
"It was not welcomed. And it was certainly not consensual," she said.
"There's a difference between being an affectionate and warm person," Commisso said. "The governor knows that what he did to me and what he did to these 10 other women, whether it be a comment or an actual physical contact, was sexual harassment. He broke the laws that he himself created.”
Commisso began working as Cuomo's executive assistant in 2017, describing it as a "dream job" that "turned into a nightmare."
She described in detail her groping allegations that were laid out in the AG’s report. She said that on Dec. 31, 2019, she was helping Cuomo with his upcoming State of the State speech at the governor’s mansion in Albany when he suggested taking a selfie together.
"I then felt while taking the selfie, his hand go down my back onto my butt, and he started rubbing it,” Commisso said. “Not sliding it. Not, you know, quickly brushing over it — rubbing my butt."
In November 2020, she said Cuomo pulled her in for a “sexually aggressive” hug inside his private office at the governor’s mansion.
"It was then that I said, 'you know, Governor, you know, you're—' My words were 'you're going to get us in trouble,’” Commisso recalled.
She said Cuomo then slammed the door to his office shut.
"He came back to me, and that's when he put his hand up my blouse and cupped my breast over my bra," she said. "I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself, Oh my god. This is happening."
She said it happened very quickly and that Cuomo didn’t say anything.
“When I stopped it, he just pulled away and walked away,” she said.
The governor and his attorney have repeatedly denied her allegations, saying that he was busy working that day while surrounded by multiple staffers and family members in the mansion.
Commisso said she was afraid of going public with her accusations because of what might happen to her daughter and because she feared retaliation from Cuomo and his “enablers.”
But she told some of her coworkers after she watched Cuomo deny that he had touched anyone inappropriately during a news conference in March.
"He almost has this smirk that he thinks that he's untouchable," Commisso said, recalling the press conference. "I almost feel like he has this sense of almost a celebrity status and it just— That was the tipping point. I broke down. I said, 'He is lying.'"
She apologized to Cuomo’s other alleged victims for not coming forward sooner.
Commisso said that despite her concerns about protecting her daughter, she also wanted her to know that she too had a voice.
"I never want her to be afraid to speak," Commisso said. “I never want her to be afraid of any person in power, a man or a woman."