CNN has suspended Chris Cuomo “indefinitely” after reviewing the host’s testimony in the investigation of sexual harassment allegations against his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
CNN issued a statement Tuesday saying Chris Cuomo’s role as an advisor to his brother as he battled the allegations went beyond what the company previously knew.
Testimony released Monday by the office of New York State Atty. Gen. Letitia James showed that Chris Cuomo was deeply involved in shaping his brother’s defense, including contacting other journalists to inquire whether other female accusers were coming forward.
“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 defense,” a CNN representative said. “The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions. 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. As a result, we have suspended Chris indefinitely, pending further evaluation.”
The statement’s description of the suspension as indefinite prompted some insiders to wonder whether Cuomo would return.
“Calling it an indefinite suspension sends a message that this might not end well,” said one CNN veteran, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.
The rank and file at CNN have expressed anger at Cuomo for aiding his politician brother during a crisis, a breach of journalistic ethics that would not have been tolerated from an employee of lesser stature.
Cuomo has hosted “Cuomo Prime Time” since 2018 and is the most watched personality on CNN. Although the network’s ratings have declined overall since the end of the Trump administration, Cuomo’s program has maintained its relative strength in CNN’s lineup despite the scandal. Anderson Cooper filled in for Cuomo on Tuesday.
Cuomo joined CNN from ABC News in 2013 and has been a prime-time host since 2018.
CNN executives stood by Cuomo when it was first revealed in May that the star was involved in staff calls with his brother as he battled the harassment accusations. After the release of James’ investigation, Andrew Cuomo resigned Aug. 10 to avoid a likely impeachment trial.
Chris Cuomo gave a deposition in July for the investigation, which found that the former governor had sexually harassed 11 women, including several who worked with him.
According to texts in the attorney general’s report, Chris Cuomo firmly weighed in on the communications strategy for his brother’s response to the scandal as it unfolded earlier this year and offered to investigate at least one claim.
He is quoted as saying that he had information on a woman who accused the former governor of unwanted touching at a wedding reception. “I have a lead on the wedding girl,” he wrote in a text to the governor’s top aide, Melissa DeRosa, according to the report. The report also says Cuomo sought to get information on a story journalist Ronan Farrow was working on about the governor for the New Yorker.