Cuomo Accuser Who Blamed Media for Emboldening Him Speaks Out

News & Politics

Back in March, former staffer and sexual harassment victim Charlotte Bennett told CBS Evening News anchor Norah O’Donnell that the praise New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) received from the media “absolutely” made him feel “untouchable.” And on Tuesday, she spoke to CBS again to say that the newly released New York attorney general report confirming all of the allegations from his many victims was “validating and really emotional.”

Throughout the pre-recorded interview, O’Donnell teed up Bennett to slap down the petty tyrant. The CBS anchor even suggested Cuomo was gaslighting his victim:

O’DONNELL: The governor admitted that he asked you questions that he doesn’t normally ask people because you told him you are a survivor of sexual assault. Do you think he’s gaslighting you is?

BENNETT: Absolutely. He’s trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can’t tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship. We have a report. We have the facts. The governor broke federal and state law when he sexually harassed me and current and former staffers.

Bennett even called for his impeachment. “And if he’s not willing to step down, then we have a responsibility to act and impeach him. He sexually harassed me. I am not confused. It is not confusing. I am living in reality, and it’s sad to see that he’s not,” she said.

At multiple times, O’Donnell brought up the counterclaims Cuomo put forward in his pre-recorded video retort and had her guest knock them down:

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O’DONNELL: And at one point he said he was trying to help you work through a difficult time. Did that seem like that was his intention?

BENNETT: No. His intention was trying to sleep with me.

O’DONNELL: The governor today blamed generational or cultural perspectives for the way he made jokes and the comments that he makes. What was the governor did a generational misunderstanding?

BENNETT: Publicly, he would rather play dumb. Privately, he knows that he sexually harassed staffers. And I think it’s easier to explain his behavior publicly by saying there was some misunderstanding.

“The governor said today that he accepts responsibility and that he’s making changes. Do you believe him,” O’Donnell wondered. Bennett shot back, noting, “Accepting responsibility means stepping down. So, I don’t believe him. And I don’t want an apology. It’s not necessary. It’s fake.” She also called the Governor’s response a “propaganda video.”

O’Donnell was intrigued by the description:

O’DONNELL: Why do you call it a propaganda video?

BENNETT: Because it’s not about anything other than protecting him and his office. It is not protecting New York. He is not speaking for New Yorkers. He is not trying to do anything other than maintain the power that he has currently.

Over on NBC Nightly News, anchor Lester Holt spoke with Albany, New York District Attorney David Soares and asked him about the possibility of a criminal investigation against the Governor:

HOLT: Based on what you’ve seen in this report, is any of the behavior described and attributed to the governor, would any of that would be considered criminal?

SOARES: Well, the allegations early on certainly led myself and other prosecutors with concurring jurisdiction to believe their criminal activity had, in fact, taken place, but we will conduct our own independent investigation. It will be done expeditiously and we will arrive at those conclusions.

As the media would say not too long ago: the walls are closing in.

The transcript is below, click “expand” to read:

CBS Evening News
August 3, 2021
6:36:47 p.m. Eastern

NORAH O’DONNELL: Joining us now for an exclusive interview is Charlotte Bennett, the former aide that the governor singled out today. Charlotte, thank you for being here.

CHARLOTTE BENNETT: Thanks so much for having me.

O’DONNELL: The New York attorney general said multiple times today that she believes you and the other women mentioned in this report. What does that mean to you?

BENNETT: Today was so validating and really emotional, and I feel vindicated. It’s been a long day, but I’m proud to be a New Yorker right now.

O’DONNELL: The governor admitted that he asked you questions that he doesn’t normally ask people because you told him you are a survivor of sexual assault. Do you think he’s gaslighting you is?

BENNETT: Absolutely. He’s trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can’t tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship. We have a report. We have the facts. The governor broke federal and state law when he sexually harassed me and current and former staffers.

And if he’s not willing to step down, then we have a responsibility to act and impeach him. He sexually harassed me. I am not confused. It is not confusing. I am living in reality, and it’s sad to see that he’s not.

O’DONNELL: And at one point he said he was trying to help you work through a difficult time. Did that seem like that was his intention?

BENNETT: No. His intention was trying to sleep with me.

O’DONNELL: The governor today blamed generational or cultural perspectives for the way he made jokes and the comments that he makes. What was the governor did a generational misunderstanding?

BENNETT: Publicly, he would rather play dumb. Privately, he knows that he sexually harassed staffers. And I think it’s easier to explain his behavior publicly by saying there was some misunderstanding.

O’DONNELL: The governor said today that he accepts responsibility and that he’s making changes. Do you believe him?

BENNETT: Accepting responsibility means stepping down. So, I don’t believe him. And I don’t want an apology. It’s not necessary. It’s fake. And his propaganda video was not only uncomfortable and inappropriate but downright weird and unnecessary.

O’DONNELL: Why do you call it a propaganda video?

BENNETT: Because it’s not about anything other than protecting him and his office. It is not protecting New York. He is not speaking for New Yorkers. He is not trying to do anything other than maintain the power that he has currently.

O’DONNELL: And then, finally what, do you think is the effect of the governor’s behavior, both in the past and then by the comments that he made today?

BENNETT: He is normalizing not only victim blaming but sexual harassment. He is saying that women come forward with their stories, and we don’t need to take it seriously. It’s simply a circus act at this point.

O’DONNELL: You actually think his comments are dangerous.

BENNETT: I think his comments are dangerous. I think it sends a message to New Yorkers that sexual harassment is not important, that it is not dangerous. It is. It is important and it’s also just plain illegal.

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