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CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been indefinitely suspended by the cable news channel after documents released by the New York Attorney General’s office detailed how he used his connections to try and help his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to claims of sexual harassment.
“The New York Attorney General’s office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defense,” a CNN spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter in a statement Tuesday. “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second. However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
On his SiriusXM radio show Wednesday morning, Cuomo briefly discussed his suspension.
“It hurts to even say it. It’s embarrassing, but I understand it,” Cuomo said at the top of the program. “And I understand why some people feel the way they do about what I did. I’ve apologized in the past. I mean it. It’s the last thing I ever wanted to do was compromise any of my colleagues. And do anything but help. I know they have a process that they think is important. I respect that process. So I’m not going to talk about this any more than that. So for right now, let’s just get after it, and there’s plenty to do on that score.”
The younger Cuomo participated in strategy sessions with his brother and his brother’s staff, and an investigation from the NYAG showed that he helped craft the governor’s response to one allegation.
However, the new information also showed that Cuomo used his sources and contacts to find information about some of his brother’s accusers and to gather intel about stories other journalists were working on about the governor.
“I would — when asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out,” Cuomo told investigators from the AG’s office. “I was frequently in contact when we would hear word that there were other people coming out. Or there was more to be learned about somebody, I would talk to other journalists to hear what they had heard.”
Specifically, the CNN anchor gathered information about a story that Ronan Farrow was working on for The New Yorker, including details about when it might publish, and if Farrow had uncovered any new accusers. That being said, Chris Cuomo also told investigators that he never tried to influence stories about his brother.
“I wasn’t going to call [Ronan Farrow]. I wasn’t going to try to influence any of the stories. And we know that that’s true because you would have read about it had I. It’s not exactly a loyalty-based business.,” Cuomo said. “If I had tried to influence any of the reporting at CNN or anywhere else, I guarantee you you people would know, and so would a lot of others. So the idea of one reporter calling another to find out about what’s coming down the pipe is completely business-as-usual.”
The details also revealed that the CNN anchor was a more active participant in strategy sessions than previously detailed, and also spoke to his brother and his brother’s staff about coverage of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He ultimately urged his brother to resign, telling his CNN audience, “My advice to my brother was simple and consistent: ‘Own what you did, tell people what you will do to be better, be contrite,’ and finally, ‘Accept that it doesn’t matter what you intended. What matters is how your actions and words were perceived.'”
However, during his deposition with investigators, he also made a comment that looks particularly prescient given Tuesday’s decision by CNN.
Chris Cuomo said: “My perspective here is — no disrespect to any of the people putting forward allegations — this is my brother, and I’m trying to help my brother through a situation where he has told me he did nothing wrong. And that’s it for me. How do I protect my family? How do I help protect him? Probably should have been thinking more about how I protect myself, which just never occurred to me.”
Dec. 1, 10:30 a.m. Updated with Chris Cuomo’s comments on SiriusXM.
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