CNN anchor Chris Cuomo offered his brother's advisers information he thought might discredit one of the former governor's accusers, according to text messages released Monday.
The trove of messages, released as part of New York attorney general Letitia James's investigation of Andrew Cuomo, show Chris Cuomo contacted friends in the media industry to find out when news organizations planned to publish stories about his brother's alleged victims. He also texted with advisers in the governor's office, saying he had a "lead" on one of the alleged victims. The exchanges were largely with Melissa DeRosa, a longtime aide to Andrew Cuomo.
The attorney general's office is investigating nearly a dozen claims of sexual harassment against the disgraced former governor. The probe has had significant political fallout. Cuomo and DeRosa resigned from office in August. The heads of two social justice organizations—Time's Up and Human Rights Campaign—resigned after the attorney general's investigation found they advised Cuomo while he faced misconduct allegations.
Chris Cuomo has escaped the controversy relatively unscathed, though the documents released Monday show he played a more significant role advising his brother than he has publicly acknowledged. The primetime anchor, who was accused this year of making unwanted sexual advances against an ABC News executive in 2005, claims he encouraged his brother to apologize to his accusers. Cuomo also denies trying to discredit any of the governor's accusers, though his exchange with DeRosa may call that claim into question.
Cuomo told DeRosa in a message on March 4 he had a "lead on the wedding girl," a reference to Anna Ruch. Ruch told the New York Times on March 1 that Cuomo touched her inappropriately and asked to kiss her during a wedding reception in 2019. When asked about the text messages at a deposition on July 15, Chris Cuomo testified he had heard from a friend that Ruch accused Andrew Cuomo of wrongdoing because "she had been put up to it." Cuomo said he did not pursue the matter further after speaking with DeRosa, who said Ruch had complained about the incident soon after it happened.
Cuomo collected other information for DeRosa and the governor's team, he told investigators with the attorney general's office. "I would—when asked, I would reach out to sources, other journalists, to see if they had heard of anybody else coming out," he testified.
Cuomo said he contacted sources to find out when Politico and investigative journalist Ronan Farrow would publish stories about Cuomo's accusers. Cuomo expressed relief upon learning that Farrow was writing a story about just one of Cuomo's accusers, Lindsey Boylan.
"If Ronan has nothing better than Boylan that's a great sign," Cuomo wrote DeRosa on March 14, four days before Farrow published his story.
CNN did not respond to a request for comment.