What New York AG Eric Schneiderman’s Resignation Could Mean for Trump, Weinstein and Manafort
Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General and vocal supporter of women in the #MeToo movement, abruptly resigned Monday, following a report of physical abuse of four women published in The New Yorker.
Who is Schneiderman
Schneiderman had been a rising star in the Democratic Party, championing women’s rights and leading the civil rights lawsuit against the Weinstein Company and Harvey Weinstein himself. Schneiderman had also been a consistent Trump antagonist, working with special counsel Robert Mueller in the investigation of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, pushing for a delay on the net neutrality vote, and even investigating both Trump University and the Trump Foundation before Trump was elected president.
In a statement, Schneiderman had told the reporters of The New Yorker story that “In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo quickly called for Schneiderman’s resignation. Cuomo argued that “no one is above the law,” and noted that his “personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article,” Schneiderman cannot continue serving as Attorney General and asked him to resign.
New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand similarly called on Schneiderman to resign, saying that “the violent actions described by multiple women in this story are abhorrent. Based on this extensive and serious reporting, I do not believe that Eric Schneiderman should continue to serve as attorney general. There should be a full and immediate investigation into these credible allegations.”
Cynthia Nixon, who is running against Cuomo for governor of New York, called the allegations “sickening,” and noted that it was “the right decision” for Schneiderman to step down.
Just three hours after the story was published, Schneiderman resigned as Attorney General, saying, “While these allegations are unrelated to my professional conduct or the operations of the office, they will effectively prevent me from leading the office’s work at this critical time. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
Not surprisingly, considering Schneiderman’s conflictive relationship with the president, Trump supporters were pleased by his downfall. Presidential advisor Kellyanne Conway wrote, “Gotcha.”
What happens next
One of Schneiderman’s highest profile ongoing cases is the suit against Weinstein. As recently as last week, Schneiderman announced that he was naming a deputy to investigate the case, which means Schneiderman’s resignation should have little impact.
The federal case against Manafort is still ongoing. However, a federal judge in Virginia questioned Mueller’s prosecution as recently as last week, suggesting that it was “aimed at getting him to provide evidence against the president,” according to The Washington Post. It is not clear how far Schneiderman’s reported investigation into Manafort had gotten, or whether his office was contemplating state money laundering charges, which, according to Scott Turow at Vanity Fair, would be immune from a presidential pardon.
Schneiderman is now under investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s office, according to a Monday report from The New York Post.
In the immediate term, Schneiderman’s replacement will need to be found. New York’s constitution dictates that his replacement will be selected by the State Assembly and Senate by a joint ballot.
Schneiderman was up for re-election this year, and no Democrat had announced intentions to challenge him come November. Whoever is chosen to replace him may very well seek election. They will face Manny Alicandro, a corporate lawyer who announced his candidacy on Monday and is running as a Republican.