Embattled governor Andrew Cuomo (D., N.Y.) has retained the services of a high-powered criminal defense attorney who defended Harvey Weinstein and Woody Allen against allegations of sexual assault.
Elkan Abramowitz, a former federal prosecutor with close ties to Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance, will serve as legal counsel to the governor and his top aides, the Wall Street Journal reported Monday.
New York attorney general Letitia James is investigating the Cuomo administration on several fronts. Three women have now accused the governor of sexual harassment. Allegations include unwanted kissing and touching, as well as inappropriate or suggestive comments, such as asking a 25-year-old female subordinate if she "had ever been with an older man" while the pair were alone in his office.
"To be clear I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to," Cuomo said in a statement (sort of) apologizing for his past behavior, which he described as "being playful and mak[ing] jokes that I think are funny."
Cuomo, who asked constituents to await the findings of an independent investigation "before making any judgment," finally referred the matter to James's office on Sunday after state lawmakers rejected his initial proposal to have a former federal judge investigate the allegations on his behalf.
James is also investigating the Cuomo administration's handling of the state's nursing homes during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The attorney general's office recently released a report indicating the Cuomo administration had significantly undercounted the number of COVID-related deaths in nursing homes. The administration quickly updated the figures, increasing the nursing home death toll by more than 40 percent.
Abramowitz, who represented Cuomo during a federal investigation into the governor's decision to prematurely dismantle an anti-corruption panel he created in 2013, will have his work cut out for him. The lawyer has certainly made a name for himself as the go-to legal counsel for celebrity sex pests.
In 2015, Abramowitz made a $2,100 campaign contribution to Manhattan district attorney Cy Vance after Vance dropped groping charges against his client, Harvey Weinstein. The charges were dropped despite a police recording of Weinstein apologizing to the alleged victim and promising he "won't do it again."
Abramowitz also represents Peter Nygard, the Canadian fashion mogul who was recently indicted on sex trafficking charges involving dozens of "minor-aged female victims." The attorney has also represented Hollywood actor Woody Allen against charges of sexual abuse involving his daughter, Dylan Farrow, whom Abramowitz once described as a "pawn" of her mother, actress Mia Farrow. "The idea that [Dylan] was molested was implanted by her mother, and that memory is never going to go away," he said in 2014.
If Cuomo's defense team is in need of a paid intern, T.J. Ducklo could be a good fit. Ducklo, the former White House deputy press secretary, resigned last month after he was exposed for berating a female reporter and threatening to "destroy" her. Ducklo has worked for some of America's most prominent sex pests, including Mike Bloomberg, Mark Halperin, Matt Lauer, and Chris Dodd.