Letitia James, the New York attorney general, unveiled the findings of her office’s sexual harassment inquiry into Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo on Tuesday, describing the report in stark terms and declaring that “we should believe women.”
As she revealed that two outside investigators found during a five-monthlong inquiry that Mr. Cuomo had sexually harassed at least 11 women, Ms. James said the state had “an obligation to protect women in their workplace.”
That, she concluded, was the most important takeaway of the report, which supported their accusations and provided them in detail.
“I believe women, and I believe these 11 women,” she said at the conclusion of a nearly hourlong news conference Tuesday.
The moment was one that Ms. James had not herself sought; Mr. Cuomo, under pressure when the accusations against him first began, referred the matter to her office.
But in the end, she took it on with the conviction and oratorical flair that has marked her rise through New York politics.
Ms. James, a Democrat who is the first woman and first Black person to be elected attorney general in New York, had been considering a run for mayor back in 2018, when the state’s then-attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, abruptly resigned from the post after four women accused him of physical abuse.
She then ran for attorney general, with the backing of Mr. Cuomo, who was running for re-election as governor and with whom Ms. James aligned her campaign. Ms. James then cruised to victory in the general election.
During her campaign, Ms. James largely ran on her opposition to then-President Donald J. Trump. After she was elected, her office opened investigations into Mr. Trump and his family business, as well as several banks that financed Trump Organization projects.
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But Ms. James has also shown a willingness to jump into the fray on several other high-profile issues. Her office has investigated pandemic safety concerns at Amazon warehouses and sued the National Rifle Association. She has also called for an end to mayoral control of New York City’s police department.
Many of Ms. James’s competitors in her election criticized her ties to Mr. Cuomo, raising concerns that she would not investigate allegations of misconduct against him. But in January, Ms. James’s office reported that the governor’s administration had underplayed coronavirus-related deaths of state nursing home residents, undercounting them by the thousands.
Still, concerns over the ties between the two elected officials led Ms. James to deputize the independent investigators to conduct the inquiry into the sexual harassment allegations.
Though Mr. Cuomo initially seemed to voice support for an independent investigation, he and his aides have since raised concerns that the inquiry may be politically motivated.
They have suggested that Ms. James’s report may be swayed by her apparent interest in running for governor and challenging Mr. Cuomo’s re-election bid next year. Ms. James has made no public remarks suggesting she will do so.
Asked on Tuesday whether the findings of her investigation should be enough to compel the resignation of Mr. Cuomo, Ms. James demurred.
Instead, she pointed to the bravery of the women, state employees, who had come forward to report abuse by the governor, their ultimate boss.