New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has announced his resignation, effective Tuesday, after reporting in The New Yorker Monday evening included on-the-record accusations of assault and sexual violence against the prominent politician and highly-visible Democrat by several women who had previously been in relationships with him.
Written by investigative journalists Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow, the news story offered a devastating portrayal of Schneiderman’s private life that showed him as someone with a habit of drinking alcohol to excess and pattern of behavior, alleged his victims, in which “he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent.”
In addition to incidents of assault, some of the women said that Schneiderman threatened them — either with physical harm or that he would turn the powers of his office against them.
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“The actions of NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are horrific,” declared Shaunna Thomas, co-founder of UltraViolet, in response to the story. “This is unacceptable in any scenario, but especially when the abuser is the chief law enforcement officer for the State of New York.” Thomas’ group called on the AG to resign immediately.
Just hours after the story broke, Schneiderman did exactly that and announced his resignation.
“It has been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York,” Schneiderman said in a statement late Monday. “In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me. 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.”
As the state’s AG, Schneiderman has become a national figure pushing high-profile cases and become an outspoken — and legally potent — critic of the Trump administration. In addition to fighting for women’s rights — including his role in prosecuting a case against Harvey Weinstein in the wake of sexual assault allegations that led to the powerful film producer’s downfall — Schneiderman has also been a leading voice within the Democratic Party’s apparatus of pushing for holding powerful fossil fuel companies accountable for the climate crisis and combating the influence of large corporations with lawsuits and other legal actions.
None of that, however, protected Schneiderman from the shock and outrage from progressives in New York Democratic circles and beyond:
The descriptions by these brave women of the physical and sexual abuse they suffered at the hands of NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman are sickening. It is the right decision for him to resign immediately.
— Cynthia Nixon (@CynthiaNixon) May 8, 2018
If you’re shocked to learn that leftist men like Schneiderman are also abusers, you haven’t been listening to women.
— Evan Greer (@evan_greer) May 8, 2018
— Amanda Terkel (@aterkel) May 8, 2018
The Eric Schneiderman story is tragic for the people he hurt, and for the people he might have otherwise helped. You just want to scream in frustration and sadness.
— Bill McKibben (@billmckibben) May 8, 2018
With Schneiderman out, it didn’t take long for people to begin contemplating his possible replacement:
The Assembly Democrats — who effectively would control the choice of appointing a @AGSchneiderman replacement before Election Day — will hold a closed door conference at 9 AM Tuesday to discuss. https://t.co/LpGjbp2zOd
— Yancey Roy (@YanceyRoy) May 8, 2018
I see a lot of people tweeting @PreetBharara’s name as a possible Schneiderman replacement.
The chances of the NY Legislature — home to many he once prosecuted — picking him are less than zero.
— Jon Campbell (@JonCampbellGAN) May 8, 2018
New York media mentions @ZephyrTeachout as a potential replacement for just-resigned state AG Eric Schneiderman. I respect that she may decide this isn’t the right time to run. But I find something at once hopeful and reassuring in the sound of “Attorney General @ZephyrTeachout.” pic.twitter.com/3BOln9QcPx
— John Nichols (@NicholsUprising) May 8, 2018