Brittany Commisso, the executive assistant who claims that New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo groped her under her shirt publicly discussed her allegations against the governor for the first time in a “CBS This Morning” interview in which she described her experiences and explained why she did not come forward sooner.
Commisso had previously only been known as Executive Assistant #1, as she is referred to in the report released by the New York Attorney General’s Office. Speaking with CBS and the Albany Times Union, Commisso described how Cuomo’s behavior with her escalated over time, starting with hugs.
“These are not hugs that he would give his mother or his brother. These were hugs with the intention of getting some personal sexual satisfaction out of,” she said. “Then they started to be hugs and 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’d quickly turned his head and he kissed me on the lips.”
Commisso admitted that she did not say anything in response, and explained why.
“People don’t understand that this is the Governor of the State of New York. There are troopers outside. They are not there to protect me, they are there to protect him,” she said. “I felt as though if I did something to insult him, especially insult him in his own home, it wasn’t going to be him that’s going to get fired or in trouble.”
Cuomo has denied all wrongdoing regarding Commisso and the 10 other women who have accused him of misconduct. He has responded to claims that he gave unwanted hugs or kisses by saying this is how he customarily greets people – even releasing a montage of images of him doing this with women and men alike.
“Maybe to him … this was normal, but to me and the other women he did this to it was not normal,” Commisso said. “It was not welcomed, and it was certainly not consensual.”
The governor’s conduct escalated further, Commisso told investigators, with him allegedly grabbing her butt and in one instance reaching up her blouse and cupping her breast over her bra.
In the latter encounter, Commisso said, Cuomo had first hugged her in “a sexually aggressive manner.” She responded, she recalled, by telling him, “You’re going to get us in trouble.”
“And I thought to myself that probably wasn’t the best thing to say,” Commisso said, “but at that time I was so afraid that one of the mansion staff, that they were going to see this and think, oh is that what she comes here for? And that’s not what I came there for and that’s not who I am. And I was terrified of that.”
In response, she said, Cuomo slammed the door shut, approached her, reached up her blouse.
“It happened so quick, he didn’t say anything. When I stopped it, he just pulled away and walked away.”
Commisso said she finally filed a complaint “because it was the right thing to do” and “the governor needs to be held accountable.”
“What he did to me was a crime. He broke the law,” Commisso said.
Last week Commisso filed a complaint with the Albany County sheriff’s office. An investigation is currently underway, and it remains to be seen whether the governor will face any criminal charges.
The New York State Assembly has also been investigating Cuomo for possible impeachment. The Assembly’s Judiciary Committee will next meet to discuss impeachment Monday morning at 9:30 a.m.
Commisso, who still works in the administration, has met with impeachment investigators and said she would like to see the governor out of office.
“I do think he needs to resign and I think that he needs to seek counseling,” she said. “I do think that he needs professional help.”
When asked what she would say to Cuomo if she had the chance, Commisso paraphrased something that Cuomo himself said recently about how “if you give New Yorkers the truth and you give New Yorkers the facts – the good, the bad, the ugly – they will do the right thing.”
“I would say, Governor, this is the truth,, these are the facts, and it’s your turn to do the right thing,” she said. “And that right thing is to resign and to tell the truth.”