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Biden Joins Other Top Democrats Calling On Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) To Resign After Damning Sexual Harassment Report; New York Mayor Says Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) Should Resign Or Be Impeached; Louisiana Breaks Its Pandemic Record For COVID Hospitalizations; Cuomo Accuser: His Intention Was Trying To Sleep With Me; Fourth Officer Who Defended Capitol In Riot Dies By Suicide. Aired 6-7p ET

Aired August 03, 2021 - 18:00   ET



WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: So do almost all major Democratic leaders out there, including the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, both New York Democratic Senators. Phil Mattingly, thank you very, very much.

Let's get some more on the very detailed, very disturbing report on the New York attorney general's investigation of Governor Cuomo. Our National Correspondent Erica Hill is joining us.

Erica, 11 women came forward with sexual harassment allegations against the governor.

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That's right. 11 complainants, we learn today, nine of them either current or former state employees. And we were told very directly from the investigators that they were all credible.


LETITIA JAMES, NEW YORK ATTORNEY GENERAL: Governor Andrew Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women, and in doing so, violated federal and state law.

HILL (voice over): A damning report detailing a pattern of unwelcome, inappropriate behavior by the governor and a hostile work environment.

JOON KIM, SDNY SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR: It was a culture where you could not say no to the governor.

HILL: 11 women describing their encounters as disturbing, humiliating and uncomfortable.

ANNE CLARK, SDNY SPECIAL INVESTIGATOR: We found all 11 women to be credible. There was corroboration to varying degrees.

Charlotte Bennett talked to people and texted people contemporaneously. Some of her texts were practically in real-time.

HILL: Charlotte Bennett, a former aid and health policy adviser to the governor first told her story to the New York Times in February. Investigators shared one of her texts when announcing the report's findings.

KIM: Quote, the verbal abuse, intimidation and living in constant fear were all horribly toxic, dehumanizing and traumatizing.

HILL: On Tuesday, she called on the governor to resign. He later addressed her in a taped statement.

GOV. ANDREW CUOMO (D-NY): I have heard Charlotte and her lawyer, and I understand what they are saying. But they read into comments that I made and draw inferences that I never meant. Simply put, they heard things that I just didn't say.

HILL: Then her attorney telling CNN in an email, quote, the governor has a serious problem with the truth. Among the other encounters laid out in the A.G.'s 165-page report, two involved a New York State trooper who was part of Cuomo's security detail.

CLARK: He took his open hand and ran it across her stomach from her bellybutton to where the hip where she keeps her gun. She told us that she felt completely violated to have the governor touch her, as she put it, between her chest and her privates.

HILL: And a woman known as executive assistant number one outlining several other unwanted encounters.

CLARK: The governor hugged executive assistant number one and reached under her blouse to grab her breast. There were also several locations on which the governor grabbed her butt.

HILL: The governor denied the sexual harassment allegations.

CUOMO: I never touched anyone inappropriately or made inappropriate sexual advances.

HILL: While also claiming the report was politically motivated, allegations the A.G. strongly denied.

JAMES: You were attack on me as well as members of the team, which I find offensive.

What this investigation revealed was a disturbing pattern of conduct by the governor of the great state of New York. I believe women and I believe these 11 women.


HILL (on camera): Wolf, investigators spoke with nearly 200 people as part of this investigation, many of the members of the governor's inner circle, including his brother, Chris, who, of course, is an anchor here at CNN.

And when it comes to charges, the attorney general was asked specifically about charges. She doesn't have the power to bring them knowing this was a civil investigation. However, we have already heard from the Albany County D.A. who had said they will in fact request the materials that the Attorney General's Office had and also encouraged any other victims to reach out to the office of the Albany County D.A.

So where does this go from here? Well, we can tell you a new statement coming in from house -- from New York State Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, which says, in part, it is abundantly clear to me that the governor has lost the confidence of the Assembly Democratic majority and that he can no longer remain in office. Wolf.

BLITZER: Erica, I want you to stay with us. I want to also bring in our Senior Legal Analyst, the former U.S. attorney, Preet Bharara, and the former Federal Prosecutor Laura Coates.

Laura, 11 women spoke out against the governor in sworn depositions as they were, you know, under oath. Investigators say they spoke with 179 people in total. The governor insists all these allegations laid out in the report are, in his words, just not who I am. But a report this thorough is rather tough to refute, isn't it?

LAURA COATES, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: It is. And also a report that he himself essentially commissions in a very awkward now of having handed the reins over to the attorney general, Letitia James, independent investigation and now is attacking it if he himself was the one to want this to actually take place.


And so you can't just simply criticize because it no longer supports you or has a different outcome here.

And you are right about the volume here. It's the quantity, it's also the quality, we are told there are tens of thousands of pages of corroboration as well, some contemporaneous text messages and the like. And you also have people like a state trooper, a part of his own security details, as Erica mentioned here. I mean, the issues of credibility are simply going in a different direction that governor Cuomo would like to at this point in time.

Of course, it is not a court of law, these are findings. There is no criminal prosecution at this point in time. We aren't aware of that being pending. But you are talking about somebody who is asked for the opportunity to leave the state of New York. And that's where there is a higher standard that goes along with somebody who is in that position. And you heard from the president of the United States on down the request to resign. He is not apparently going to do that, but maybe there is a political solution that might be on the horizon as well.

BLITZER: You know, Preet, I want you and our viewers to listen to the attorney general of New York, Letitia James, address the next steps now that they have released this report. Listen to this.


JAMES: Our work is concluded and the document is now public and the matter is civil in nature and is not -- does not have any criminal consequences.


BLITZER: Explain, Preet, why she isn't referring all of this evidence for criminal prosecution.

PREET BHARARA, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: As Laura points out, she, herself, and the Attorney General's Office probably does not have the authority to make a criminal prosecution. As Laura also pointed out, you have David Soares, the Albany County district attorney, who would have jurisdiction as the local prosecutor, has a roadmap.

With respect to certain of the allegations, people should be clear that some of the things are alleged in the report are not criminal. Comments that make people uncomfortable, they might constitute unlawful sexual harassment under Title VII. But they don't constitute a crime. But with respect to some of the victims who alleged unwanted touching, there is potential assault prosecution. And I assume that's what David Soares in Albany might be looking at.

BLITZER: You know, Erica, the governor has lost the support of so many prominent Democrats, including the president of the United States, and as I said, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, both New York's Democratic senators, Schumer and Gillibrand. What is the likely political fall- out from all of this? Bottom line question, will he be impeached?

HILL: Well, that's what a lot of people are asking at this point. Here's what can I tell you. More than two-thirds of state senators at this point have called on him to resign. Now, if he were to be impeached, you would need the state senate and seven judges from the New York Court of Appeals who would be involve in that vote in any impeachment articles. A two-thirds vote would remove him from office.

And we heard too, I mention what we heard of course from the Speaker Heastie, the majority leader, Andrea Stewart-Cousins, in the senate saying earlier today on CNN for the sake of the state he should resign and that she will support efforts to move toward impeachment.

BLITZER: You know, Preet, I know you worked closely with Joon Kim, one of the lawyers who led this investigation. Given what you know about him, what do you say to the governor's claim that this investigation was politically biased?

BHARARA: Well, that's what the governor is going to say, isn't it? It is reminiscent of what other people, including the former president of the United States says when they're in the uncomfortable position of being investigated.

I should make clear that now as I work with, Joon, he's been a friend of mine for 20 years. I hired him back into the U.S. attorney's office as chief counsel, promoted him multiple times and when I was fired by the president, he became the Acting U.S. Attorney. Everything I know about him is that he is a person of complete integrity, diligent in his work.

And, by the way, you don't need me to be an advocate for Joon Kim and his colleague, Anne Clark, people should read the report. It is meticulous. It is fact-based. There are assessments of credibility of each of the witnesses some things will left out of the report. You don't really need to just read the report.

Look at the reactions of people who are sitting on the sidelines after looking at the report, including Governor Cuomo's friend and colleague, the sitting president of the United States, including his own handpicked lieutenant governor, who says the chief believes the accusation based on the report.

So, everything I know about Joon is one thing. But I think the public must know about the report and Joon Kim is both from the report itself and reading it and looking at the fairly lackluster and lame response by the governor that he put that includes, among other things, pictures of himself kissing his mother as if that's some kind of defense to these claims of sexual misconduct, and also the reactions of other people who have no interest in being divergent from the governor unless they think that these things are true. And the report, I think, makes that fairly clear.

BLITZER: Yes, a really dramatic development. Guys, thank you very, very much.


Just ahead, the New York City mayor, Bill de Blasio, he is standing by live. He will join me in The Situation Room. There you see him. I will ask him about this damning new report alleging a pattern of sexual harassment by the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

And we will also discuss the mayor's ground breaking new COVID vaccine requirement. Standby. We will be right back.


BLITZER: Breaking news this hour, President Biden says New York Governor Andrew Cuomo should resign after investigators released a damning report of allegations of repeated sexual harassment.


Let's discuss this and more with the New York City Mayor Bill De Blasio. Mayor De Blasio, thank so much for joining us.

What is your reaction to the findings laid out by the State Attorney General Letitia James today and the governor's vehement denial?

MAYOR BILL DE BLASIO (D), NEW YORK CITY, NY: Wolf, it's disgusting. I mean, you read the pages of that report and what we heard in the press conference. My heart goes out to these women, first of all. They were put through hell by a powerful man who held their career in his hands.

They used that power to manipulate, to have his way, and they were put in a horrible situation not knowing if they get to keep their job, or what would happen to their futures, their reputations. This is textbook sexual harassment. And then unfortunately making it worse, in some cases even sexual assault. Disgusting and troubling and unacceptable and he needs to leave office immediately. BLITZER: You made it clear, Mayor, that you don't think the governor can continue obviously to lead the state of New York. If he refuses to resign and today in his initial statement he's making it clear he is not planning to resign, what exactly are you calling for?

DE BLASIO: Look, his statement was laughable. His attempt to show pictures of him with his family members as a defense was an insult to these women, insulted the whole notion that a public servant is held to a high standard. He should resign, if he won't resign, he should be impeached as quickly as possible. He can't govern. He can't govern.

And, Wolf, this was one investigation. There is a whole separate series of issues around the nursing home scandal, whether the facts of all those deaths in the nursing homes due to COVID was covered up. There is a scandal around the book he wrote with the help of state employees. There is a scandal around giving out vaccines to political supporters and withholding vaccine supplies from opponents. I mean, this guy is past the point of no return. He can't govern. He just has to go.

BLITZER: If he doesn't go, and if he isn't impeached, should he face criminal charges?

DE BLASIO: It looks that way to me. You know, obviously the Albany County District Attorney is looking at that right now. I mean assault on a women, any assault on a women you should face criminal charges, but if you, on top of that, used your power and position to think you could cover up the assault, well, that sounds criminal to me.

BLITZER: And what do you say to his charge that those who led this investigation were politically biassed against him?

DE BLASIO: The people who worked for him, they were public servants. A state trooper, I mean, you listen to someone like Charlotte Bennett. We have all heard her words obviously incredibly earnest young woman trying to go good in the world. This set of charges didn't come from the attorney general or the lawyer she hired.

It came from the people who worked for the governor and were disgusted by his behavior. The investigators did their job. So I go back to the original sin here. He did this to these women, 11 women came forward. How much more evidence do we need before it's obvious that something is profoundly broken?

BLITZER: All right. Let's turn to the coronavirus pandemic. You announced today that vaccines will be mandatory in New York City for indoor dining, fitness, entertainment venues. Can you walk us through how you decided on the details of this new policy?

DE BLASIO: Absolutely. And, Wolf, let me tell you, the whole ball game is vaccination. The delta variant is bearing down on all of us. Unless we want to go back to restrictions and the horrible, horrible impact that COVID had on our families, we've got to get serious. That means vaccination. Only one thing will stop the delta variant, vaccination at a much higher level. So, it's time for mandates the voluntary approach is were great, the incentives were great. Mandates are what will really work now. We're saying simply, do you want to dine indoors in New York City? Do you want to work in an indoor dining establishment, same with a fitness gym, same with entertainment and movie theater. You need to be vaccinated, period. We will be going to have the specific rules out in the next couple of weeks. We will implement, give businesses time to get used to it, educate, support them.

And then on the first Monday after Labor Day, the 13th of September, we will going to start sending out inspectors and holding people accountable. But the message is very simple, to save our city -- to save cities all around the country, states, counties, every local government should do this. It is so straightforward. This is a way to make sure a lot more people get vaccinated to save lives.

And we're talking about indoors. Outdoors, there is obviously a little more freedom. That's great.


But the message it sends is go get vaccinated. And once you do, you have so much more freedom. You have so many more options than choices. It rewarding vaccination, which is exactly where we need to go.

BLITZER: And it is so easy to get a shot these days. It is readily available. Just a curious development, though. Why are you only requiring people receive one dose of a coronavirus vaccine? Because we know protection increases significantly after the second dose.

DE BLASIO: This is a strategy very clearly, Wolf. We're saying we want to encourage people right now. if you are not vaccinated, we're not telling you, you have to wait a long time to experience all the great things in life. Go down to so many places in this city all around the country you can go for free. It only takes a few minutes.

Get that first dose. Get that card. You are in business. You can work indoors. You can come indoors for great food, great entertainment and then, of course, go back and get the second shot when your time comes, but we want to reward and support good behavior.

We don't want to tell people, oh, you've got to wait a month before you can have any fund. We want people to know, there should be a clear red line. If you are vaccinated, a world of opportunity and great, positive things is there for you. You get to enjoy life. You get to have a lot of freedom. If you are unvaccinated, there's going to be fewer and fewer opportunities. Not only in this city. I think people going to take up this, all over the country, the president of the United States endorsed this approach that we started today. I think you're going to see localities pick up on this.

And it is going to send a message, if you're unvaccinated, you will get left out more and more. And, Wolf, particularly for young people in this country, they don't want to get left out of entertainment and restaurants and concerts and so many other great opportunities. I think this will push our youngest Americans to cross the road and go get vaccinated.

BLITZER: How will you enforce this vaccine mandate if somebody wants to go see a play or a concert, go to a gym or restaurant? I know there are several ways people can prove they're vaccinated. It will be up to individual businesses, Mayor, to turn away potential customers?

DE BLASIO: Yes. We're going to support them in putting together rules and right kind of enforcement. But the simple concept. When you go to a restaurant you check him, when you go to a gym, you know there is a front desk where you show your I.D. You know you go to a movie theater, you buy a ticket or you put a ticket on the scanner.

There are obvious check-in points. So what we want to do is simply have personnel from each of these establishments check if you have a vaccination card or one of the passes. They sure pass for the state, New York City has a COVID safe app. show that you have a vaccination. It's really not complex.

One of the members of Congress, Adriano Espaillat, supported this move today and he just took out his wallet and said, look, I keep my vaccination card right at my fingertips. It is as simple as that. And with that simple act, we will be affirming the power of vaccination.

And I guarantee you -- people need a little extra push sometimes, just a lot of people willing to be vaccinated. They just haven't focused or gotten that final piece of inspiration. But when you can't go to your favorite restaurant, you can't go to a movie theater, you know people will say, damn, it's time to get vaccinated.

BLITZER: Certainly it is time to get vaccinated. So simple, so easy, readily available for free. And as you correctly point just takes a few minutes. Mayor Bill De Blasio, thank you so much for joining us.

DE BLASIO: Thank you, Wolf. Just ahead, we're going to get an update from one of the major new COVID hot spots. We're talking about Louisiana, which just broke a pandemic era record for hospitalizations. Stay with us. You're in The Situation Room.



BLITZER: Tonight the governor of Louisiana is calling the current surge in COVID-19 cases around the United States the worst one yet. The state just broke its own pandemic record for a hospitalization. CNN National Correspondent Nadia Romero has more from Baton Rouge. Nadia?

NADIA ROMERO, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Wolf, another grim milestone here in the state of Louisiana, forcing the governor to enact a statewide mask mandate. So technically it begins tomorrow but he's asking people to start it today, with wearing a mask indoors whether you are vaccinated or not in all public places including schools.

Now, at Our Lady of the Lake, the chief medical officer says they are running out of beds. They're at capacity. They're turning people away who don't have urgent medical needs. And there also a long list of people waiting to be transferred here who don't have a critical case of COVID-19. Now a one bit of hope that we're seeing on the horizon is that here in Louisiana, more people are getting vaccinated. Governor Edwards says that is the one thing that he believes will help in this nightmare. Wolf?

BLITZER: All right, Nadia, thank you very much. Nadia reporting. Let's bring in our COVID expert Dr. Ashish Jha, he's the Dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. And Dr. Leana Wen, is a CNN Medical Analyst, Emergency Room Physician, former Baltimore City Health Commissioners.

She's also by the way the Author of a brand new, very important book entitled Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey In The Fight For Public Health. There you see the book cover. Dr. Jha, let's start with you, as Louisiana breaks its own record for coronavirus hospitalizations, what lesson do you hope other states are learning about the threat of this really awful delta variant and the need for action now?

DR. ASHISH JHA, DEAN, BROWN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: Yes, Wolf. Thanks for having me back. The biggest lesson is you can never act too soon. You have to act early. By the time hospitalizations have gone, where the Louisiana's have gone, there are a lot of infections aren't baked in. The next few weeks are going to be really quite tough for Louisiana no matter what it does.


So, early action is the key. Obviously we know how to prevent this. It is by vaccinations. Other public health measures will help as well. But I'm really worried for the people of Louisiana right now.

BLITZER: Let's turn, Dr. Wen, to vaccine mandate now in New York City. You have long said the vaccine honor system was not going to be sufficient. So what do make of this news, we just heard the mayor of New York discuss it.

DR. LEANA WEN, CNN MEDICAL ANALYST: I think it's a really good idea. I think it is a powerful incentive that is a powerful incentive. So the news that are now going to require vaccination, they are optional. There is something fun going to restaurants, going to gyms, entertainment venues.

So, you can still go to the grocery store or pharmacy, it doesn't impact your essential activities but you are now able to -- when there is a positive incentive for you to get vaccinated. I also think that in general, it helps to create a much safer space. I know that I would feel a lot better going to a restaurant or gym where everybody around me is vaccinated.

I do have some concerns about this one dose and not two doses. And also, I hope that there will be a some type of very good, very secure proof of vaccination because I don't think we can trust the honor code.

BLITZER: Yes. I agree with you on that. Mayor De Blasio, Dr. Jha, says the vaccine mandate only requires people to get that one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. Pfizer, Moderna always require two doses. And after the second dose it still takes what, two to three weeks to be fully vaccinated, fully protected. So is that one dose requirement enough?

JHA: Yes, I think it's a good start. I understand the mayor's argument that it gets people in through the door. But we do know is that one dose is still helpful for preventing severe hospitalizations and deaths. But it is not good enough for preventing infections and certainly not good enough for preventing transmission. So everybody needs to get that second dose. I think they're trying to walk a fine line here. Encourage people to get started right away. And then they have to make sure they complete that and get everybody a second shot as well.

BLITZER: Yes. That is so, so important. Dr. Wen. We're just learning that the San Francisco health department just announced it will allow people who received that Johnson & Johnson single COVID-19 vaccine to receive a supplemental MRNA vaccine dose. Do you think this is the right move? And is this even allowed? Doesn't the FDA have to sign off of something like that?

WEN: Well, I don't know the legalities of it, but I do think it is time for our federal health officials to allow this as well because frankly at this point we know that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine is less effective than the MRNA vaccines.

I have already recommended to some of my patients who are extremely high risk who have high risk exposure and or who are older with chronic medical illnesses, they might benefit from an additional dose right now.

Now, we don't have the full studies, and so it is hard for us to make that recommendation for everyone, but I think this needs to be a decision that a patient makes with their doctor. And it shouldn't be something that they have to sneak around to do right now.

Somebody has to go pharmacy hopping to see if they could get that MRNA vaccine from CVS that they first went to a -, or they have to cross state lines. We shouldn't have to do that when it is actually, potentially for some patients it is recommended for them based on their risk profile.

BLITZER: And I think I could be wrong, but I think like 12 million Americans received the Johnson & Johnson single dose vaccine. Dr. Jha, do you think they should now get either the Pfizer or the Moderna vaccine as a booster, as a second dose?

JHA: Yes, you know, I agree with Dr. Wen. This is a place where the FDA really has to step in. and here's why, Wolf. There are a lot of questions about boosters. Elderly Americans who got vaccinated with the MRNA vaccine six months ago may have some waning immunity.

We have got the Johnson & Johnson question. Every single person trying to figure this out on their own, doing it surreptitiously, is a really bad idea. So I want to see clear guidance from the FDA. I do think some people will going to end up needing boosters. But I want the FDA to weigh in on this and not everybody figure this out on their own.

BLITZER: Yes. Well that's an important point. Dr. Ashish Jha, Dr. Leana Wen, we're grateful to both of you as always.

And there is more breaking news emerging here in The Situation room as President Biden joins the House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and other top Democrats in calling for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign. I want to get reaction from the third ranking House Democrat, Congressman James Clyburn is standing by live.



BLITZER: The calls for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo to resign are growing this hour. President Biden joining the chorus tonight after that damning report by the state attorney general finding Cuomo sexually harassed multiple women.

Joining us now the third ranking Democrat in the House of Representatives, the Majority Whip, James Clyburn. Congressman, thank you so much for joining us. We've got several issues to discuss. But quickly, do you agree with the president and House speaker for that matter, that Governor Cuomo must resign?

REP. JIM CLYBURN (D-SC): Well, first of all, thank you very much for having me, Wolf. Well, the report, I have not read the report. The headlines coming from it, the gravity of the charges, and it looks as if all of the allegations were substantiated. I don't see how you survive that. So I suspect he will do himself and the City New York or the State of New York a whole lot of good if he were to resigned.

BLITZER: If he doesn't resign, Congressman, should he be impeached?

CLYBURN: I think that the legislature will probably let him know that they are contemplating that. You know, I hate to follow, and so I'll have to say he ought to save himself and the state the agony.

BLITZER: And simply resign. Let's see, right now he says he's not going to do that. But we will soon find out. Let's turn to a different issue.


The White House plans to announce a new eviction ban that's more limited in scope. How far would that go, do you believe, Congressman, to help potentially 15 million Americans who are at risk of eviction from their homes right now, especially if president Biden is on shaky legal ground?

CLYBURN: I think it will go a long ways. Without all the (INAUDIBLE) is that as I said on yesterday, that we have got to do more than that. There is some reason that all this money is being bottled up in these state capitals. Right here in South Carolina, almost $500 million. And they say almost none of it, only nine people, have been helped. $500 million, why? I don't think that that's the fault of the moratorium. That's the fault of something wrong with the system. And I do believe that all the gyrations (ph) that we put people through in order to skew this money it is just too much.

And we ought to do it. And I think the president was right on today when he said that we ought to figure out a way to get these monies directly to the landlords. If we can determine that someone is back six, seven, eight million in their rent, there ought to be a way for the agency to make the landlord whole because these people want to stay in their homes. They're asking to get the check in the mayor, they just want to stay in their home. So how are we can keep them there, we ought to do it.

BLITZER: Yes, there are enough homeless people there already around the country. We don't need more homeless people. But what is your suspicion? Why is the money that's already out there that's available not be used to help those folks stay in their home?

CLYBURN: I think there is an attitude amongst many in the bureaucracy that you have got to go to these great lengths to make sure these people aren't cheating the government. You know, it's so much that low income people have to go through. Places where I think about would an upper income people should -wealthy people. So when I think about how the money went out to PPP and what we are doing now. There is just no comparison to the paperwork.

BLITZER: Congressman James Clyburn, let's see what happens on this front. Thank you for joining us.

CLYBURN: Well, thank you for having me.

BLITZER: Just ahead, a fourth police officer who responded to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol has now died by suicide. What we're learning when we come back.



BLITZER: New reaction right now from Charlotte Bennett, one of the 11 women who accused the New York Governor Andrew Cuomo of sexual harassment. Those allegations were detailed in a damning new report from the New York attorney general.

CNN's Erica Hill is joining us once again right now.

So, Erica, what exactly is Charlotte Bennett saying?

ERICA HILL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Charlotte Bennett who spoke out very clearly in the last few months. She said today was emotional, a very long day, but she feels vindicated and it was validating.

She also weighed in on what the governor had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE) CHARLOTTE BENNETT, CUOMO ACCUSER: He's trying to justify himself by making me out to be someone who can't tell the difference between sexual harassment and mentorship. We have a report. We have the facts. The governor broke federal and state law when he sexually harassed me and current and former staffers, and if he's not willing to step down, then we have a responsibility to act and impeach him.

He sexually harassed me. I am not confused. It is not confusing. I am living in reality, and it's sad to see that he's not.

INTERVIEWER: And at one point he said that he was trying to help you work through a difficult time. Did that seem like that was his intention?

BENNETT: No. His intention was trying to sleep with me.


HILL: Charlotte Bennett also went on to say she talked about the video, the taped statement the governor put out today. She called it in her words a propaganda video. She said it was weird and unnecessary. And in her estimation, he was only doing it, Wolf, to protect himself. She said normalizing victim blaming, calling it a circus act and dangerous, Wolf.

BLITZER: Yeah. This is one of the 11 women. Others are also reacting.

I know this is very difficult, very painful, and it's, in many respects, very heroic for these women to be making these kinds of statements over these last several months against the sitting governor of New York.

HILL: It absolutely is. That's something we have heard from those women like Charlotte Bennett who did come forward and speak out ahead of time.

We heard from analysts earlier today who reacting to a report on Twitter expressing her thanks and appreciation for those who listen to her, for the hugs, for the encouragement, as he put out there. I'm paraphrasing, trying to remember the exact words of her tweet.

But as we know, Wolf, it is so difficult for any survivor of sexual abuse, of sexual harassment to come forward. There has, for so many years been, a culture of victim shaming and victim blaming.

So to find your voice, to be able to come forward and especially when you are dealing with someone like the governor of the state of New York -- you know, this was discussed and this is part of the picture that this report painted was what they referred to as a toxic, a hostile work environment where people were afraid to say no to the governor, that it created this environment of fear for so many people.


And as you can imagine, Wolf, that is also a fear of coming forward. In one of Charlotte Bennett's texts, which was quoted directly today by the investigators as they were talking about this report, they mentioned at one point how she was terrified. And she says in the text and again, I'm paraphrasing. I apologize. I don't have them directly in front me.

But she said at some point he was so afraid of what would happen if she rejected the governor that she decided she would disappear herself instead. I think for so many people, that really sums up how they feel about possibly coming allegations, the account of what has happened to them when they're dealing with not just a person in a position over them but such a powerful person in this country.

BLITZER: Erica Hill reporting for us. Erica, thank you very much.

Just ahead, a fourth police officer responded to the January 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol has now died but suicide. We're getting new information. We'll share it with you when we come back.



BLITZER: A fourth police officer who responded to the Capitol riots here in Washington has now died by suicide. The White House saying the deaths of the four officers are -- and I'm quoting now -- a sad reminder of the shameful day in our country's history and of the physical and mental scars that left the officers who risked their lives to protect our capitol and democracy.

CNN analyst Charles Ramsey and Anthony Barksdale are joining us right now.

Chief Ramsey, as the former D.C. police chief, should this fourth suicide by ringing alarm bells for leaders in Congress and for law enforcement for that matter?

CHARLES RAMSEY, CNN SENIOR LAW ENFORCEMENT: Well, certainly should be ringing alarm bells for everyone, but I think it's also important to remember, suicide and policing is not new. I mean, that is an issue and it has been as long as I've been around in policing.

We just never talked about it much. The stress that's associated with policing on a regular basis, you add to it trauma like officers experienced on January 6th is just a recipe for bad things to happen. We have to take mental health far more seriously than we do right now.

BLITZER: Yeah, we certainly do.

Commissioner Barksdale, how worried how about the impact on police officers of some of these Republicans who are trying to actually whitewash that deadly January 6th attack?

ANTHONY BARKSDALE, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: I'm very worried about that for politicians elected to have such an attitude towards the realities that officers face doing their job to withhold, to uphold the Constitution to have politicians turn their backs on them is very disturbing, and we heard about back the blue. It was back the blue while they were running for election but now they have turned their backs on the blue and that's a problem.

BLITZER: Is it going to be hurting recruitment, Chief Ramsey, this whitewashing that's going on, belittling what was going on, not believing the sworn under oath testimony of those four police officers who testified?

RAMSEY: Well, recruiting is an issue across the country in policing, not just associated with January 6th. Two years ago we began going through very, very rough times with policing with viral videos and it came to ahead with the murder of George Floyd.

So we've had an environment that really hasn't been very positive in policing, which also adds to the trauma and stress that officers are feeling right now across the country.

So, it's all those combined that has a negative impact. There's no question about it.

BLITZER: And, Chief Ramsey, we learned today the Fraternal Order of Police is working to protect the police officer who is actually among the rioters attacking the Capitol on January 6th.

What message does that send knowing some of these police officers who defended the capitol actually feel abandoned by that union?

RAMSEY: It's a terrible message. You know, the FOP and I don't see eye to eye on a lot of things. I have respect for the fact men and women of our profession do need to have union representation. But when you have officers that engaged in acts of serious misconduct, criminal activity and engaging in insurrection, you got to drop them.

I mean, there is absolutely no reason at all for FOP or any other police organization to be defending these guys. They were part of January 6th.

BLITZER: Let me get to Commissioner Barksdale to react. What's reaction to that development?

BARKSDALE: I'm 100 percent with Chief Ramsey on that one. There is no way to support an officer that participated in an act of domestic terrorism. That is insane, let him go. He needs tore be fired or go to jail. That's unacceptable. It makes no sense.

BLITZER: Have you ever seen anything like that, Commissioner Barksdale, before?

BARKSDALE: No, when you take that oath, you're a police officer 24 hours a day like it or not. That's part of the job. You're supposed to be a representative of your agency every single second of the day, even off duty. To say that this is okay because he was off duty is just sickening.


BARKSDALE: It's just -- it's crazy.

BLITZER: All right. Guys, thank you very, very much.

And to our viewers, help is always available to anyone contemplating suicide through the national suicide prevention lifeline. The number, there you see it, 800-273-8255 or text home to 741741.

"ERIN BURNETT OUTFRONT" starts right now.