7 Cringeworthy Moments From Cuomo's Address On Sexual Harassment Claims

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) denied sexual harassment allegations against him on Tuesday in a bizarre press conference that included moments of belittlement and a slideshow of him kissing people.

The 63-year-old’s address immediately followed the state attorney general concluding that he did sexually harass multiple current and former state government employees and created a “hostile work environment for women.”

Here are some of the most bizarre moments:

He shared a slideshow of him kissing people.

The governor shared a 20-second slideshow featuring photos of him kissing various people and touching their faces as a defense for allegations of unwelcome touching.

“I do it with everyone,” he said as the photos rolled by. “Black and white, young and old, straight and LGBTQ, powerful people. Friends, strangers, people who I meet on the street.”

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He belittled kissing and touching people without their consent.

Cuomo said his habit of touching and kissing people’s faces is meant to convey warmth and is a habit that he learned from his mother. He did not say he will stop, even after several women accused his behavior of being sexual and unwelcome.

“I’ve been making the same gesture in public all my life,” he said. “There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photos of me using the exact same gesture.”

He did say he has “learned” from this.

“I now understand that there are generational or cultural perspectives that frankly I hadn’t fully appreciated and I have learned from this,” he said.

He belittled having used pet names for women in his workplace.

Cuomo, who has been accused of calling a female aide “sweetheart” and “darling” and putting his hand around her waist, attempted to diminish complaints that he uses inappropriate pet names and terms of endearment for women.

“I do on occasion say, ‘Ciao bella,’” he said of the Italian phrase for “Hi, beautiful.” “On occasion, I do slip and say sweetheart or darling, or honey. I do banter with people,” he said. “I am the same person in public as I am in private.”

Using such terms of endearment for another person is not only inappropriate but considered sexual harassment by the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Office of Civil Rights.

“Even if the person ‘means nothing to you’ or you have ‘used the term for years’ you should be aware that such expressions are inappropriate,” the DOI’s website states. Physical contact and squeezing a worker’s shoulders or putting a hand around their waist are other listed examples of sexual harassment.

He wants his office to be used as a model for office behavior.

Immediately after identifying his own inappropriate behavior in the workplace, Cuomo said he wants New York state government to be a “model of office behavior.”

“I’ve brought in an expert to design a new sexual harassment policy and procedures and to train the whole team, myself included. I accept responsibility and we are making changes,” he said.

He went on a tangent about sexist double standards.

Cuomo switched gears to talk about how unfair it is that women face sexist double standards in the workplace and that this “must be challenged.”

“When have you ever seen male managers maligned and villainized for working long hours or holding people accountable or for being tough? A strong male manager is respected and rewarded, but a strong female manager is ridiculed and stereotyped,” he said. “It is a double standard. It is sexist and it must be challenged.”

He countered the AG’s findings by sharing his attorney’s findings.

Cuomo countered the state attorney general’s investigation into the allegations against him by advertising the results of a report on the allegations from his own attorney, which he said can be found online.

“My attorney, who is a non-political former federal prosecutor, has done a response to each allegation and the facts are much different than what has been portrayed. That document is on my website,” he said. In the report, his attorney called James’ investigation biased and accused it of having “willfully ignored evidence inconsistent with the narrative they have sought.”

The investigation by New York state Attorney General Letitia James was launched in March and included interviews with 179 people, and reviewed more than 74,000 pieces of evidence, including emails, texts, photos and audio files, James said. Her 168-page report was released Tuesday.

He praised his handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Cuomo, while facing growing calls for him to resign, ended his press conference by praising his handling of the coronavirus pandemic and stressing that the work lying ahead of him in office is ongoing, which he repeatedly emphasized can only be done “together.”

“Look at the progress we made on COVID. It is amazing. We went from the highest infection rate in the country to one of the lowest infection rates in the country,” he said. “That shows that there’s nothing that we can’t do when we work together. Together. Together as one. As one community. As one family.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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