Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo and Chris Cuomo in 2018.
Dia Dipasupil | Getty Images
CNN anchor Chris Cuomo participated in a series of strategy calls advising his brother, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, on how to respond to numerous allegations of sexual misconduct, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
The calls — which included top aides, lawyers and outside advisors for Cuomo — took place earlier this year, as multiple women came forward to accuse the Democratic governor of sexually harassing them or otherwise making them feel uncomfortable with his words or behavior, the report said.
CNN acknowledged in a statement to the Post that Chris Cuomo had participated in the calls.
Chris Cuomo, host of CNN’s “Cuomo Prime Time,” advised the governor on the calls not to resign and encouraged him to take a defiant stance against the allegations, the Post reported, citing four people familiar with the discussions.
Chris Cuomo used the politically charged phrase “cancel culture” during one call, two people told the newspaper.
Richard Azzopardi, a spokesman for the governor, acknowledged the calls took place, telling CNBC in an email that “there were a few phone conversations, with friends and advisers giving the governor advice.” Azzopardi did not respond when asked if Chris Cuomo was one of those people advising the governor.
Chris Cuomo had repeatedly interviewed his brother on his show about the coronavirus pandemic — an area where the governor had initially been praised for presenting an image of decisiveness and transparency amid the crisis.
But as the cloud of scandal overshadowed Andrew Cuomo’s office, the CNN host declared in March he would not be reporting on the harassment allegations against his brother “because he is my brother.”
Multiple investigations into the allegations against Andrew Cuomo are underway.
CNN told the Post that it was a mistake for Chris Cuomo to participate in the calls.
“Chris has not been involved in CNN’s extensive coverage of the allegations against Governor Cuomo — on air or behind the scenes,” CNN told the Post. “In part because, as he has said on his show, he could never be objective. But also because he often serves as a sounding board for his brother.”
“However, it was inappropriate to engage in conversations that included members of the Governor’s staff, which Chris acknowledges,” CNN’s statement said. “He will not participate in such conversations going forward.”
A spokesman for CNN did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Andrew Cuomo has in recent months been embroiled in a compounding series of scandals that have prompted a chorus of calls for his resignation, including from many Democratic politicians in his state.
Among the most damning charges came from New York Attorney General Letitia James, who is probing Cuomo’s administration for significantly underreporting deaths from Covid in state nursing homes.
This week, the governor came under fire again after his tax filings showed he would earn $5.1 million from a book published last October that purported to offer “leadership lessons” about the pandemic.
That book, which critics now call a misleading and premature victory lap, has led to claims Cuomo misused the resources of his office.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that federal prosecutors have been looking into whether the governor’s office granted special access to rapid Covid test results for certain people — including Chris Cuomo and other family members — in the early days of the pandemic.
The latest developments in the Cuomo family’s scandal saga came after AT&T, which owns CNN, announced a $43 billion deal to merge WarnerMedia with Discovery.
Discovery President and CEO David Zaslav, who will lead the new company, said it would keep CNN.