CNN suspended host Chris Cuomo on Tuesday, a day after the New York attorney general’s office released documents that showed the journalist was more deeply involved than previously known in helping his brother, former Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), respond to allegations of sexual harassment.
The news network said his suspension would be indefinite.
“The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions,” the network said in a statement. “When Chris admitted to us that he had offered advice to his brother’s staff, he broke our rules and we acknowledged that publicly. But we also appreciated the unique position he was in and understood his need to put family first and job second.”
“However, these documents point to a greater level of involvement in his brother’s efforts than we previously knew,” CNN added. “As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
The suspension comes amid the release of a trove of exhibits as part of Attorney General Letitia James’ inquiry into Andrew Cuomo’s behavior while governor. He resigned in August after James released a damning report detailing claims by 11 women who said he acted inappropriately while in office.
The attorney general on Monday published text messages and emails as well as transcripts of Chris Cuomo’s testimony, which showed the “Cuomo Prime Time” host was regularly in touch with some of his brother’s closest aides in March, when the scandal first emerged. The revelations prompted scrutiny over Chris Cuomo’s use of his role as a journalist to help his brother fend off an avalanche of allegations.
“Please let me help with prep,” Chris Cuomo texted his brother’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, in early March. Days later, after The New York Times published a story detailing a woman’s accusation that the governor tried to give her an unwanted kiss at a wedding, DeRosa asked the CNN host to leverage his journalistic connections to uncover details about her.
“On it,” Chris Cuomo replied at the time. He said in another message that he had “a lead on the wedding girl.”
The CNN host acknowledged earlier this year that he had helped his brother but added that he urged him to step down as the revelations poured in.
“Obviously, I am aware of what is going on with my brother,” he told viewers on March 1, when a third accuser came forward. “And obviously I cannot cover it because he is my brother. Now, of course CNN has to cover it. They have covered it extensively, and they will continue to do so. I have always cared very deeply about these issues, and profoundly so. I just want to tell you that.”
In the published interview with investigators from July, Chris Cuomo rejected an assertion that he attempted to influence any stories or journalists while he was supporting his brother, adding that if he had done so, “people would know.”
“I just know that as the situation started to accelerate, my brother asked me to be in the loop,” Chris Cuomo told investigators in July. He added later that he heard “more from my brother when he is in a particular time of need of my take on what’s happening.”