CNN suspends brother of former New York governor Andrew Cuomo

Legal papers reveal how much TV anchor Chris Cuomo helped his brother combat sexual misconduct allegations.

CNN anchor Chris Cuomo has been suspended from the network indefinitely [File: Evan Agostini/AP]

US broadcaster CNN said it indefinitely suspended prominent anchor Chris Cuomo after legal transcripts revealed the extensive help he gave his brother, former New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, to fight sexual misconduct allegations.

The news network said court documents released on Monday showed Chris Cuomo had given more assistance to his brother than it was previously aware.

Andrew Cuomo resigned in August amid mounting allegations detailed in a 165-page report by the New York state attorney general, whose office has gradually been releasing the evidence gathered during its investigation.

“The New York Attorney General’s Office released transcripts and exhibits Monday that shed new light on Chris Cuomo’s involvement in his brother’s defence,” a CNN spokesperson said on Tuesday.

“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions.”

The spokesperson added while CNN “understood his need to put family first and job second” in aiding his older brother, it said the transcripts “point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew”.

Andrew Cuomo has denied inappropriately touching anyone during his decade as governor, but acknowledged in a resignation speech that his understanding of what constituted misconduct may have been different than that of the 11 women who accused him.

The documents released showed text and other messages in which Chris Cuomo sought to use his own sources in the media to find out information on the case and the women involved, as well as trying to find out what other journalists planned to report.

Cuomo, who hosts CNN’s most-watched prime time news show, admitted in May that he might have breached some of the network’s rules in advising his brother on how to handle the allegations from a public relations perspective.

However, he has maintained he did not influence CNN’s coverage and previously pledged not to report on the case on-air. On Tuesday, Cuomo’s show was replaced with a second hour anchored by Anderson Cooper. The network’s long-term plan for filling the time slot was not immediately clear.

The situation represents a dramatic fall from grace for both brothers, who are the sons of former New York Governor Mario Cuomo.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Andrew Cuomo rose to international prominence for frank daily video updates as New York grappled with the coronavirus outbreak, often appearing in banter-filled CNN live segments hosted by his brother.

He was considered a top contender to be a future Democratic Party presidential candidate.

In October, a criminal complaint was filed in Albany, New York, charging Andrew Cuomo with a misdemeanour sex offence – the first criminal charges to stem from the allegations.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies