NEW YORK (AP) — Andrew Cuomo isn’t begging for forgiveness.
Fourteen months after being fired from office in a sexual harassment scandal, the former New York governor is pushing his way back into the public eye, launching a podcast and political action committee on what could be the first steps toward of a comeback bid for political office.
But he doesn’t follow the usual script for misbehaving politicians seeking redemption. Cuomo is adamant in his view that he was the victim of a political hit job. And he’s not worried that that attitude might cost him listeners on his new show, which has its debut episode on Thursday.
“It’s about expressing my opinion to the public and speaking publicly,” Cuomo said in an interview with The Associated Press. “And as far as they don’t like what I have to say, don’t listen.”
Cuomo’s first guest on the podcast, “As a Matter of Fact…with Andrew Cuomo,” is Anthony Scaramucci, best known for his brief stint as White House communications director for former President Donald Trump.
Among Cuomo’s competition in the crowded podcast space: his brother and confidant Chris Cuomo, a TV journalist trying to make a comeback after being fired from CNN for acting as a strategist for the former governor in violation of the network’s ethical rules.
The first two episodes are free, then the show gets a paywall on the Quake Media platform at $2.99 a month, where the other offerings include conservative hosts Laura Ingraham and Mike Huckabee’s podcasts and Pete Rose’s daily sports betting.
The prospect of Cuomo’s return to public life does not sit well with Debra Katz, an attorney for former Cuomo aide Charlotte Bennett, who last month sued Cuomo for sexual harassment, discrimination and retaliation.
“I think the world would be a better place if he just stayed home and worked on his motorcycle,” Katz said, referring to Cuomo’s well-known love of bikes and classic cars.
Cuomo, once a national star in the Democratic Party, resigned in August 2021 after numerous women accused him of sexual harassment, saying he subjected them to unwanted kisses or touches, made insinuating comments about their appearance and sex lives, or a hostile work environment.
An assistant said Cuomo had felt her chest. That charge prompted a county sheriff to file a criminal charge against Cuomo, which was later dropped by the Albany County District Attorney because it would be too difficult to win a conviction.
An investigation overseen by New York Attorney General Letitia James concluded that Cuomo sexually harassed at least 11 women. Cuomo has accused James of pre-determining the findings because she intended to run for governor. James briefly ran for governor after Cuomo’s resignation, but quickly left the campaign.
“There was politics involved. There was hype at play. There was an exaggeration,” Cuomo said. “They weaponized the day-to-day interactions.”
Today, he says he is more aware of and more cautious in interactions with women — mainly to protect himself from further accusations of misconduct.
But even after a year of thinking — traveling, boating, walking his dog Captain, working on an old Harley-Davidson motorcycle, and finding a place to live — Cuomo doesn’t really think he’s done anything wrong.
“Yes, I posed for pictures with people when I put my arm around people. Yes, I’m sure I said to someone, “ciao bella.” Yes, I’ve kissed people on the cheek,” Cuomo said. “Yes. By the way, those are everyday interactions for millions of Americans. So yes, I believe there was politics, I believe the culture was canceled. And I think the facts have proved that right.”
Through his political action committee, Cuomo said he plans to support like-minded Democrats running for state and federal offices. He said he was angry about the marginalization of moderate democrats in a party that is drifting to the left.
Cuomo, 64, doesn’t rule out going to the office again.
“Life has options and it depends on the options,” Cuomo said. “I’m not ruling out anything, but you have to see what the options are.”
Asked if he would consider running for the U.S. Senate in 2024, Cuomo said it was “too early to say,” but offered that his experience and personality were better suited to an executive role, such as being governor.
This is the first election cycle in 20 years that Cuomo has not run for a single position. He had been the state’s attorney general before becoming governor.
He said he hopes his successor, Governor Kathy Hochul, wins the re-election of Republican challenger Rep. Lee Zeldin. ‘I look at the returns. I just won’t have that much anxiety, stress and heartburn,” Cuomo said.
“I did the job of governor obsessively seven days a week and did the job as attorney general obsessively. That’s 15 years. That’s a big part of life I haven’t spent with friends, I haven’t been on vacation, I haven’t spent with my daughters,” Cuomo said. “So the real silver liner is having time to spend with family and friends, which is guilt-free — without looking at the phone, without saying I really should be working. That’s the silver lining.”
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