A video of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo appearing to pressure a female journalist to eat a sausage has resurfaced as allegations of sexual misconduct roil his governorship as he prepares to make a bid for a fourth term.
The video is from the New York State Fair in 2016, where Mr Cuomo can be seen telling NewsChannel 9’s Beth Cefalu, "I want to see you eat the whole sausage," after a now-former aide to Mr Cuomo hands a plate with sausage to the reporter.
Ms Cefalu responded: "I don’t know if I should eat the whole sausage in front of you, but I’m definitely going to eat it."
Mr Cuomo then invites Ms Cefalu to sit down at his table, where she takes a selfie with the governor and the food.
Mr Cuomo says "There’s too much sausage in that picture," prompting laughter from others around the table.
Ms Cefalu on Monday refuted suggestioned she had been “pressured” by Mr Cuomo.
“I was not pressured/harassed this is two people enjoying the one event - the NYS fair - that gives them a little more freedom to be informal,” she wrote on Twitter.
The resurfacing of the more than four-year-old video comes as Mr Cuomo is under increased scrutiny after two women have made allegations of sexual misconduct against him.
Two former aides have said that Mr Cuomo behaved inappropriately. One of the aides, 25-year-old Charlotte Bennett, told The New York Times that Mr Cuomo, who is 63 and single, asked her questions about her sex life, if she was monogamous in relationships and if she "had ever been with an older man".
Ms Bennett told The New York Times: “I understood that the governor wanted to sleep with me, and felt horribly uncomfortable and scared. And was wondering how I was going to get out of it and assumed it was the end of my job.”
In a statement, Mr Cuomo said that "my office has heard anecdotally that some people have reached out to Ms Bennett to express displeasure about her coming forward. My message to anyone doing that is you have misjudged what matters to me and my administration and you should stop now - period".
Ms Bennett’s allegation came shortly after another former aide to the governor said he unsolicitedly kissed her in his office in 2018, and that he also suggested they play strip poker.
"I should have been shocked by the governor’s crude comment, but I wasn’t," former Cuomo aide Lindsey Boylan wrote on Medium, adding: "I hope that sharing my story will clear the path for other women to do the same."
In a Sunday evening statement, Mr Cuomo said: "I never intended to offend anyone or cause any harm. I spend most of my life at work and colleagues are often also personal friends.
"At work sometimes I think I am being playful and make jokes that I think are funny. I do, on occasion, tease people in what I think is a good-natured way. I do it in public and in private... I mean no offence and only attempt to add some levity and banter to what is a very serious business."
Mr Cuomo added that he "now understand that my interactions may have been insensitive or too personal and that some of my comments, given my position, made others feel in ways I never intended. I acknowledge some of the things I have said have been misinterpreted as an unwanted flirtation. To the extent anyone felt that way, I am truly sorry about that".
He also said: "To be clear, I never inappropriately touched anybody and I never propositioned anybody and I never intended to make anyone feel uncomfortable, but these are allegations that New Yorkers deserve answers to. That's why I have asked for an outside, independent review that looks at these allegations."
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