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Republicans call for investigation into NY attorney general’s handling of misconduct allegations against chief of staff

<i>Caitlin Ochs/Reuters</i><br/>Republican lawmakers in New York state are calling for an investigation into Democratic Attorney General Letitia James
Caitlin Ochs/Reuters
Republican lawmakers in New York state are calling for an investigation into Democratic Attorney General Letitia James

By Mark Morales, CNN

Republican lawmakers in New York state are calling for an investigation into Democratic Attorney General Letitia James days after her chief of staff resigned amid allegations of sexual harassment.

The call comes as newly released documents reveal the timeline behind when her office became aware of the misconduct allegations against Ibrahim Khan and the steps James’ office took to hire outside counsel to conduct an independent investigation.

Khan resigned last month after he was accused of “inappropriate touching and unwanted kissing by at least one woman,” according to The New York Times.

Details on the allegations and the investigation’s findings have not been publicly released. According to the Times, the woman’s allegations were substantiated.

Khan said in a statement Friday that the investigation into him “found no official workplace misconduct.”

“The State Assembly Judiciary Committee must convene a formal investigation at once into what Attorney General James knew, when she knew it and why that information was withheld,” State Assemblyman Colin Schmitt, a Republican, tweeted.

GOP State Sen. Tom O’Mara echoed the sentiments on Twitter and Facebook as well.

“There must be an immediate, independent investigation about what she knew about these allegations, when she knew it, and if they were properly addressed,” O’Mara said in the posts.

Serena Longley, deputy counsel for the attorney general’s office, said that policies are in place to protect the confidentiality of the witnesses and their allegations.

The office, Longley said, “has policies in place to protect the privacy and confidentiality of cooperating witnesses, including policies against releasing names of witnesses or information about their allegations.”

Timeline of events

James’ office first became aware of the allegations on October 2, according to a timeline provided by Longley.

The next day, Khan was told to work remotely and not to socialize with staff or anyone affiliated with the attorney general’s office until an internal investigation had been completed, according to an internal email provided by the attorney general’s office.

A day later, the law firm of Littler Mendelson agreed to investigate the allegations, according to documents released from the AG’s office.

“That was done because of the specific circumstances and position of the employee,” Longley stated in the timeline shared with CNN. “The OAG took extra precautions to ensure a fair, impartial, and thorough review by hiring an outside firm.”

The investigative team did not include any former members of the New York attorney general’s office, according to Longley.

Then, on November 22, Khan issued his resignation letter and transitioned out of his position, with his final day on official office matters being December 2, according to records provided by the AG’s office

When reached for comment into her handling of the investigation, the AG’s office referred to a Friday statement.

“The Office of Attorney General has protocols in place to thoroughly investigate any allegation of misconduct. The office takes these matters with the utmost seriousness and this situation is no different. An independent, impartial investigation was conducted, and the employee has since resigned.”

The AG’s Sexual Harassment Prevention policy provided by the office states that when warranted “the (Equal Employment Opportunity) Officer will promptly and thoroughly investigate reports of sexual harassment, whether received in writing or orally. The confidentiality and privacy of those involved will be preserved to the extent possible, consistent with a full and fair investigation and appropriate remedial or disciplinary action.”

Khan issued a statement after news of the allegations and his resignation on Friday.

“After a successful four-year term, I’ve been slated to leave the office for the private sector at the end of this year,” Khan said in the statement. “This is unrelated to an investigation which, nevertheless, found no official workplace misconduct. I’m proud of all we have achieved over these past four years in serving New Yorkers.”

Khan declined to comment to CNN when reached Tuesday morning.

NY AG’s office says Cuomo probe was different

James led the investigation into former Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo, which concluded he had “sexually harassed multiple women and violated state law,” in August 2021.

Cuomo announced he’d resign in August 2021, but has continued to deny any wrongdoing.

The attorney general’s office said the circumstances surrounding the Cuomo investigation, and that of the chief of staff, were different, noting that when the AG was investigating the former governor it was in a law enforcement capacity.

The investigation into her chief of staff was subject to federal and state Equal Employment Opportunity laws.

According to the attorney general’s office, the investigation into the former governor resulted from a referral under executive law that required the OAG to hire an outside law firm and “specifically required the release of a public report.”

According to the office, an internal investigation conducted by an employer is different than any statutory investigation into an allegation of misconduct by an elected official, and there are legal obligations as an employer to conduct “a prompt, fair, and impartial review that protects the privacy of those making allegations and any other witnesses.”

“This is more proof that Tish James has corrupted the AG’s office, abusing power to further her own political ambitions through a sham report, while actively lying to the public to cover up what, by her own definition, are serious allegations of serial sexual misconduct by her closest aide,” said Rich Azzopardi, a spokesman for Cuomo.

“She ‘believes all women’ when it’s in her political interest — otherwise, she attacks the accuser or covers up the complaint,” Azzopardi said.

™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Kristina Sgueglia, Athena Jones and Celina Tebor contributed to this report.

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