File this one under bad men covering for bad men who cover for other bad men: On Wednesday, BuzzFeed News reported that at the end of June, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo quietly requested that the attorney general’s office suspend its review of Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr.’s decision to not charge Harvey Weinstein in 2015 with sexual assault.
In a statement to BuzzFeed News, Cuomo’s press secretary Dani Lever stated the suspension of the attorney general’s investigation is meant to be temporary: “As we said when the Governor directed the Attorney General to investigate the Manhattan DA’s Office, it should not interfere with the DA’s ongoing criminal case. Given the recent indictment and prosecution of Harvey Weinstein by the District Attorney, the Attorney General’s investigation has been postponed for six months.” Still, as BuzzFeed News points out, Weinstein’s criminal case could drag on for months or even years, making it uncertain when and whether the attorney general’s review will continue.
After the New York Times and The New Yorker’s investigations into Weinstein’s alleged history of sexual harassment and assault were published at the end of 2017, Vance came under fire for his decision to not bring charges against Weinstein in 2015, despite there being evidence to do so. In response to the criticism, Cuomo requested then-Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (who has since resigned over his own alleged sexual abuse) to review whether Vance mishandled the investigation, to much fanfare. Cuomo’s request to put the AG investigation on hold, meanwhile, only came to light after a sexual assault survivor who was involved in the attorney general’s review contacted BuzzFeed News.
Earlier this month, Vance described learning of the workplace harassment many women experience as a “revelation” and defended his decisions to not prosecute high-profile sexual assault cases, saying, “The public is not aware of the many cases involving men of privilege that are prosecuted in our office.” In addition to his 2015 refusal to prosecute Weinstein, his office in 2011 dropped charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the then-managing director of the International Monetary Fund who was accused of sexual assaulting a housekeeper at a New York City hotel.
Cuomo will debate his Democratic challenger Cynthia Nixon tonight in their one and only debate before the gubernatorial primary on September 13. While Nixon has yet to comment on the suspension of the investigation into Vance, she did release this video today:
Updated (2:31 p.m.): Capital & Main reports that Cuomo’s reelection campaign received a June donation from Weinstein’s former lawyer’s law firm. The order to suspend the investigation “came in the same month that Boies, Schiller & Flexner gave $25,000 to Cuomo’s reelection campaign, according to New York campaign finance records.”
“Neither Mr. Boies, nor anyone from his firm, ever discussed Harvey Weinstein or Mr. Vance with Mr. Cuomo, or anyone from his office, at any time,” a spokesperson for Boies Schiller & Flexner said in an emailed statement to Capital & Main. “Mr. Boies is a longtime supporter of Mr. Cuomo and his contribution in June was consistent with his contributions to Mr. Cuomo over years past.”