Brittany Commisso speaks out against Gov. Andrew Cuomo during a CBS Exclusive interview.
An executive assistant to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said that the embattled Democrat needs counseling as she described his “sexually aggressive” groping that led her to lodge a criminal complaint last week.
“I do think he needs to resign and I also do think that he needs to seek counseling,” Brittany Commisso, 32, said in an interview with CBS News that aired Monday.
“I do think that he needs professional help,” said Commisso, who was identified without her name as “Executive Assistant #1” in a bombshell report by the state attorney general’s office, which concluded that the 63-year-old Cuomo sexually harassed 11 women.
“You know, he has many things that he needs to work through.”
Commisso’s interview was aired hours after the surprise resignation of Cuomo’s aggressive top aide Melissa DeRosa, who is accused of retaliating against another accuser, and as the state Assembly’s Judiciary Committee awaited Cuomo’s evidence for an ongoing impeachment inquiry.
On Monday, a leading lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, resigned as chairwoman of the women’s advocacy group Time’s Up after outrage over the disclosure that she had been enlisted by Cuomo’s team in an effort to discredit the same accuser DeRosa had targeted.
“We and she agree that is the right and appropriate thing to do,” the Time’s Up board said in a statement on Kaplan’s resignation. Time’s Up was founded by hundreds of women in Hollywood to fight systemic sexual harassment in the film industry and other workplaces.
Kaplan is currently representing journalist E. Jean Carroll in a lawsuit accusing former President Donald Trump of defaming her by saying Carroll was lying and motivated by financial gain in claiming Trump raped her years ago in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store.
Carroll told CNBC in a written message on Monday, “Robbie Kaplan is my lawyer and will be forever my lawyer!”
Cuomo has flatly denied Commisso’s claims against him, and told investigators retained by Attorney General Letitia James that Commisso was “very chatty,” “affectionate,” “friendly,” “flirtatious” and “outgoing.”
His lawyer, Rita Glavin, told reporters last Friday that, “The documentary evidence does not support what she said.” A spokesman for Cuomo had no immediate comment on Commisso’s interview.
Commisso has told investigators that Cuomo rubbed her rear end while taking a selfie photo at the governor’s official residence in Albany, and that on another occasion last November he grabbed her breast after giving her a hug in November 2020.
“I could tell immediately when he hugged me it was probably the most sexually aggressive manner than any of the other hugs that he had given me,” she told CBS News.
“I exactly remember looking down, seeing his hand, which is a large hand, thinking to myself, oh, my god. This is happening. It happened so quick, he didn’t say anything. When I stopped it, he just pulled away and walked away.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks during a news conference on May 10, 2021 in New York City.
Mary Altaffer | Pool | Getty Images
Commisso also said Cuomo needs to suffer legal consequences for his alleged actions toward her.
Asked why she had a complaint against Cuomo with the Albany County Sheriff’s Office several days after her allegations were detailed in a bombshell report by the state attorney general’s office, Commisso said, “Because it was the right thing to do.”
“The governor needs to be held accountable,” she said.
“What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law,” Commisso said.
At least five county district attorney’s offices are investigating Cuomo or have asked for evidence from James’ report. Among them is the Albany DA’s office, which was notified of Commisso’s allegations.
Commisso told CBS that Cuomo on other occasions had given her hugs and kisses in a manner that made her uncomfortable.
“These are not hugs that he would give his mother or, you know, his brother,” Commisso said.
“These were hugs with the intention of getting some personal sexual satisfaction out of. Then they started to be hugs with kisses on the cheek.”
“And then there was at one point a hug and then when he went to go kiss me on the cheek, he quickly turned his head and kissed me on the lips,” she said.
Commisso said she told several co-workers about his conduct in March after watching Cuomo at a news conference deny allegations he sexually harassed anyone.
“He almost has this smirk that he thinks that he’s untouchable,” Commisso said. “That was the tipping point. I broke down. I said he’s lying. I felt like he was personally saying it to me … ‘I never touched anyone inappropriately.'”