NEW YORK (AP) – Andrew Cuomo isn’t asking for forgiveness.
Fourteen months after resigning from office amid a sexual-harassment scandal, the former New York governor is back in the public eye, launching a podcast and political action committee in what could be the first steps toward a return to political office.
But he doesn’t follow the usual rule book for the bad behavior of politicians seeking redemption. Cuomo is adamant that he was the victim of a political hit job. And he’s not worried that attitude could cost him listeners on his new show, which debuts on Thursday.
“It’s just about expressing your opinion to the public and speaking publicly,” Cuomo said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And to the extent that they don’t like what I have to say, then don’t listen.”
Cuomo’s first guest on the podcast, “As a Matter of Fact… with Andrew Cuomo,” will be Anthony Scaramucci, best known for his brief stint as former President Donald Trump’s White House communications director.
Among Cuomo’s competition in the crowded podcast space: his brother and confidante Chris Cuomo, a TV journalist trying to make a comeback after being fired from CNN for acting as a strategist for the former governor in violation of the network’s ethics rules.
The first two episodes are free, and then the show will be paid for on Quake Media’s $2.99-a-month platform, where other offerings include podcasts from conservative hosts Laura Ingraham and Mike Huckabee and daily sports betting picks from Pete Rose.
The prospect of Cuomo’s return to public life does not sit well with Debra Katz, the attorney for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, who sued Cuomo last month for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
“I think the world would be a better place if he just stayed home and worked on his motorcycle,” Katz said, referring to Cuomo’s well-known love of bikes and classic cars.
Once a national star of the Democratic Party, Cuomo resigned in August 2021 after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment, saying he subjected them to unwanted kisses or touches, made insinuating remarks about their appearance and sex life, or created hostile work. environment.
One aide said Cuomo groped her breast. That claim prompted the county sheriff to file criminal charges against Cuomo, which the Albany County district attorney later dismissed, saying it would be too difficult to obtain a conviction.
An investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women. Cuomo accused James of preordained the findings because she intended to run for governor. James briefly ran for governor after Cuomo’s resignation, but quickly left the campaign.
“There was politics at play. There was excitement in the game. There was an exaggeration,” Cuomo said. “They have weaponized everyday interactions.”
Today, he says he’s more aware and careful in his interactions with women—mainly to protect himself from further accusations of misconduct.
But even after a year to reflect — traveling, boating, hiking with his dog Captain, working on an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle and finding a place to live — Cuomo doesn’t really think he’s done anything wrong.
“Yes, I took pictures with people when I hugged them. Yes, I’m sure I said, ‘ciao bella’ to someone. Yes, I kissed people on the cheek,” Cuomo said. “Yes. And by the way, these are everyday interactions for millions of Americans. So yes, I believe there was a policy, I believe the culture was undone. And I think the facts have proven that to be true.”
Through his political action committee, Cuomo said he plans to support like-minded Democrats running for state and federal office. He said he was troubled by the marginalization of moderate Democrats in a party veering leftward.
Cuomo, 64, would not rule out running for office again.
“Life has options and depends on options,” Cuomo said. “I’m not taking anything away, but you have to see what the options are.”
Asked if he might consider running for the U.S. Senate in 2024, Cuomo said it was “too early to tell,” but offered that his experience and personality are better suited to an executive role, such as governor.
This is the first election cycle in 20 years that Cuomo has not run for office. He was the state attorney before becoming governor.
He said he hopes his successor, Gov. Kathy Hochul, will win re-election over Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin. “I will watch the comeback. I just won’t have as much anxiety and stress and heartburn,” Cuomo said.
“I did the work of the governor obsessively seven days a week and I worked obsessively as the state prosecutor. That’s 15 years. It’s a big part of my life that I haven’t spent with my friends, I haven’t been on vacation, I haven’t spent with my daughters,” Cuomo said. “So the real thing is having time that you can spend with family, friends, that’s guilt-free — not looking at my phone, not saying I should really be at work. That’s the silver lining.”
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