De Blasio: ‘Shakespearean’ Cuomo demanded I fire aide who is one of his accusersAugust 4, 2021
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Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday accused Gov. Andrew Cuomo of once demanding that he fire a spokeswoman — who later went public with a sexual harassment allegation against the governor.
During an appearance on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe,” de Blasio said the incident involved a “critical statement” the aide made that set off Cuomo, who the mayor likened to a “Shakespearean” villain.
“He demanded I fire her as a way of showing that she was wrong,” de Blasio said of his longtime rival.
“I mean, it’s endless, and it’s small, and it’s petty, and it got worse.”
The mayor added: “And I think this is part of the tragic, kind of, Shakespearean reality here — power corrupted this guy more and more each year.”
De Blasio didn’t identify his former aide by name, but City Hall sources confirmed he was referring to Karen Hinton, who served as his press secretary for about a year before resigning in May 2016 amid a series of probes of the mayor’s administration.
Hinton said Wednesday that the incident involved a statement she made to the New York Times about a news conference held by both city and state officials amid a 2015 outbreak of Legionnaires’ disease in The Bronx.
Hinton told the Times that then-city Health Commissioner Mary Bassett “actually had to basically interrupt the state commissioner to respond to questions about the city’s performance,” adding that state Health Commissioner Howard Zucker “should have had more respect.”
Afterward, Hinton said Wednesday, de Blasio “freaked out” over Cuomo’s response.
“He calls me and basically says, ‘Shut up, stop talking about it because he’s going to accuse me of killing New Yorkers over Legionnaires’,” she said.
“I only lasted nine more months after that, in part because of continued attacks from the governor.”
In March, Hinton told the Washington Post that in December 2000, Cuomo gave her a hug that was “very long, too long, too tight, too intimate” when he was secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development and she was a HUD press aide.
Hinton, who said she pulled away only to have Cuomo pull her back “for another intimate embrace,” later added to the account by saying Cuomo was physically “aroused” at the time.
The alleged incident is briefly referenced twice in the explosive report that state Attorney General Letitia James released Tuesday following a five-month probe of sexual harassment allegations against Cuomo.
But Hinton, who’s married to former Cuomo administration official Howard Glaser, isn’t included among the 11 complainants whose allegations were addressed in detail because the report only focused on the governor’s conduct in office.
Cuomo’s office didn’t respond to a request for comment but he released a video statement on Tuesday in which he suggested he was the victim of a smear campaign and had “never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.”
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