CNN anchor Chris Cuomo was suspended indefinitely on Tuesday after new documents released earlier this week showed that he was more directly involved in helping his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, respond to sexual misconduct allegations than previously believed. New York Attorney General Letitia James released thousands of pages of evidence on Monday, showing that Cuomo frequently offered advice to his brother's aides, and offered to help when Andrew's team discovered other news outlets were working on reports about allegations against him. Andrew officially resigned from office on Aug. 23, after James released a report that Andrew allegedly sexually harassed at least 11 women during his time in office.
"The documents, which we were not privy to before their public release, raise serious questions," CNN said in a statement Tuesday evening, reports the New York Times. "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." CNN said Anderson Cooper would host the 9 p.m. ET timeslot Tuesday night in place of Cuomo.
The documents released on Monday included pages of emails and text messages between Cuomo and his brother's closest aides. In March, he asked one of Andrew's senior aides to "let me help with the prep." There is also evidence that he helped them see how far along other outlets like Politico and The New Yorker were with their reporting on the allegations against Andrew. One of Andrew's then-aides, Melissa DeRosa, asked Cuomo if he could check with his "sources" about a Politico report. "On it," Cuomo replied.
James also released transcripts of interviews with Cuomo. In one, he admitted to investigators that he tried to find out about journalist Ronan Farrow's reporting on his brother, claiming this was normal journalistic practice. "The idea of one reporter calling another to find out about what's coming down the pipe is completely business-as-usual," Cuomo said, according to CNN.
In August, after Andrew resigned, Cuomo told viewers he was "not an advisor" but acted as a "brother" as more and more critics called on Andrew to step down. He insisted he stopped talking to his brother's aides in May when CNN asked him to stop. Cuomo told viewers and later investigators under oath that he did not attempt to influence reporting at CNN on his brother. "If I had tried to influence any of the reporting at CNN or anywhere else, I guarantee you people would know, and so would a lot of others," he told investigators.
In May, CNN said Cuomo was not involved in coverage of Andrew's controversies. He also apologized on-air for advising his brother. "It will not happen again. It was a mistake, because I put my colleagues here, who I believe are the best in the business, in a bad spot," he said in May. "I never intended for that I would never intend for that and I am sorry for that."
However, the new documents put increased pressure on CNN to take action since they showed Cuomo was far more involved in advising his brother's team than he led on. Charlotte Bennett, one of the former aides to Governor Cuomo who accused him of sexual harassment, called on CNN to fire Cuomo. "Anything short of firing Chris Cuomo reflects a network lacking both morals and a backbone," she wrote. "Does CNN stand by journalistic integrity, or will it simply excuse his actions because Chris Cuomo drives ratings?"