State Watch

NY attorney general resigns after claims of physical abuse

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New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) has resigned after four women accused him of nonconsensual physical misconduct in a Monday report from The New Yorker.

“In the last several hours, serious allegations, which I strongly contest, have been made against me,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “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.”

{mosads}The statement, which came after top New York Democrats called for Schneiderman to step down, said his resignation would be effective at the close of business on Tuesday.

Two of his accusers, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, told The New Yorker that Schneiderman hit them, often after drinking and in bed, without their permission. 

The two did not report the incidents to the police when they took place but sought medical help after the episodes. 

Both of the women said Schneiderman threatened to kill them if they broke up with him, and Selvaratnam alleged that he said he could have her followed and her phones tapped.

Hours after The New Yorker published its story, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) called for Schneiderman’s resignation in a statement saying he would be asking the appropriate district attorneys to open “an immediate investigation” into the claims.

“My personal opinion is that, given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article, I do not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as Attorney General, and for the good of the office, he should resign,” Cuomo’s statement read.

A third woman who asked not to be named also told The New Yorker that the attorney general abused her physically, but she was too afraid to come forward at the time. 

A fourth woman who is a lawyer in New York said Schneiderman slapped her across the face after she denied him when he made an advance on her. 

Schneiderman issued a statement to the publication denying that he assaulted the women. 

“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 nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross,” he said. 

His spokesperson told the magazine that he “never made any of these threats” to the women. 

Schneiderman’s ex-wife Jennifer Cunningham issued a statement on Monday, calling the allegations inconsistent. Cunningham is a former lobbyist and worked as Schneiderman’s media and advertising director in his campaign bids for attorney general in 2010 and 2014. 

“I’ve known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father and friend. These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values and a loving father. I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true,” she said. 

New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, like Cuomo considered a possible 2020 Democratic White House contender, had also called on the state attorney general to step down. 

“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,” she said.

Schneiderman has been a prominent supporter of the “Me Too” movement and filed suit against disgraced movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, alleging civil and human rights violations stemming from Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct.

The state attorney general has also been a vocal opponent of the Trump White House, leading efforts against President Trump’s policies at the state level. 

Schneiderman has railed against Trump on a slew of issues, including net neutrality and presidential pardons. 

He announced late last year that he was suing the administration to block the end of net neutrality rules and asked New York state lawmakers earlier this month to change the law so that prosecutors can charge individuals who have benefitted from a presidential pardon.

Schneiderman cited news reports that Trump may be considering pardons that could impede criminal investigations. The Supreme Court has ruled the president cannot pardon an individual for state crimes.

And last month, he praised the finalized settlement in a lawsuit between Trump and former students of the now-defunct Trump University this month. 

“This settlement marked a stunning reversal by President Trump, who for years refused to compensate the victims of his sham university,” Schneiderman said in a statement on April 9. 

Updated at 9:56 p.m.

Tags abuse allegations Donald Trump Kirsten Gillibrand
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