Andrew Cuomo’s Inner Circle Circulated Bizarre Attack on ‘New York Times’

In March 2021, a draft of a Trumpian response to a critical Times editorial made its way around among the then-governor’s top aides.
Andrew Cuomo stares intensely
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo holds a news conference at the National Press Club May 27, 2020 in Washington, DC. Following a closed-door meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Cuomo leveled criticism at Republican senators and other politicians that he said want to limit federal aid for New York to combat and recover from the coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

A bizarre email written in March 2021 by a top aide to Andrew Cuomo, then governor of New York, appears to channel the rage and frustration he felt as he saw his political empire crumbling around him, in the form of an incoherent rant directed at the New York Times.

The email is among a trove of correspondence Motherboard recently received after filing a public-records request with New York’s governor’s office about an entirely unrelated subject. It depicts Cuomo’s inner circle plotting responses to accusations of sexual misconduct over which he would eventually resign, with a top lawyer pushing back on proposed attacks at several points. It also contains a draft of a response to a Times editorial published on March 13, 2021, under the headline “Can Andrew Cuomo Continue to Lead?”

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The editorial, noting that Cuomo had lost public confidence and the support of his political allies, suggested that he had lost the credibility he would need to lead effectively and intimated that he should resign. The next day, top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, who worked closely with the governor—to the point that one person familiar with Cuomo’s inner circle described them as indistinguishable—emailed an impassioned rant to a group of top advisers, including lawyer Beth Garvey and flacks Peter Ajemian (now at Apple), Jefrey Pollock, and Lis Smith, under the subject line “Priv - can we clean this up? Is this ok to send out in response to the ny times editorial?”

The times editorial board has opposed to me in many of my elections. If it were up to the Times I wouldn't even have been Attorney General. That's their right. . The times now effectively supports resignation due to allegation. How many allegations should equal resignation,,2 3 5? Obviously the veracity of the allegations wouldn't matter as the Times doesn't allow for the two investigations that are already underway to conclude. It is not only repugnant to every legal principle and due process the Times has always espoused, it would be anarchy creating a feeding frenzy of people with different motivation making allegations, which is just what happened here. The times say I am accomplished governor. Thank you. But then says I should step aside now at the climax of the greatest challenge the state has faced. Covid variants, 12 million vaccines, fiscal crisis, nyc in freefall and now is the time for an immediate transfer of power to a whole new state administration? After viewing the debacle of the trump biden aborted transition? The times say it's difficult to govern because I lost political allies and public confifence". Now politival allies r good? I thought the political machine was bad? Public confidence? The times is factually wrong. New Yorkers do not want me to resign and have confidence in my managment of the covid crisis. The NYT doesn't get to speak for the public. Polls have facts. The Times adds pure mistatements. I never have expressed any opinion on how women dress in my office. I never heard "high heels" mentioned in my office. Most women and men dress informally unless doing public appearances. I said I did not have a consensual sexual relationship with any staffers. Even in this crazy time there are still principles. Allegations do not mean guilt.investigations determine facts. This is a critical moment for government to function. Polls demonstrate that the public has confidence in my managment of our current crisis and does not want me to resign. People decide elections and pick leaders not twitter or the media. Wasn't that the point of what we said in the Trump election?

Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone on the Verizon Wireless 4G LTE network.

The only response to the draft in the records Motherboard obtained was an email from Pollock that read, in its entirety, “WHAT?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????” 

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Via records inadvertently obtained through a FOIL request.

Recently, including today, Cuomo has depicted himself as a victim of “cancel culture” and attacked “woke Democrats,” apparently as part of a play to reposition himself as he returns to public life.