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NYS attorney general to hire outside law firm for Cuomo investigation

Referral letter from Cuomo's staff attorney triggers probe into sexual harassment claims by two former staffers.

BUFFALO, N.Y. — After spending much of his weekend steering away from it, Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s special counsel sent the piece of paper to Attorney General Letitia James, which triggers an investigation of his alleged sexual harassment of two female staffers.

The referral letter authorizes James to conduct the investigation and determine what to do after the probe is complete.

Over the weekend the attorney general had already signaled that once the letter was sent, she would hire an outside law firm to conduct the investigation. With the responsibility of the investigation comes legal powers.

“It is full subpoena powers and executive law specifically states any individual who refuses to cooperate with them or refuse to testify under oath or provide documents pursuant to the subpoena would be facing misdemeanor criminal charges,” says attorney Barry Covert.

The law firm will gather facts and evidence and eventually produce a report submitted to James. She alone will decide what comes next.

“She would be the final authorization for either a civil referral, a criminal referral or referral to the legislature for sanctions," Covert said.

Or James could find the accusations against Cuomo do not add up.

The investigation begins after the selection of the law firm. Given the gravity of the case, former Attorney General Dennis Vacco says the selection could take some time. His estimate, “more than two days but less than two weeks.”

You can read the full referral letter below: