NEW YORK — In a swift and stunning turn, New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman has resigned, effective today.
Once considered a rising star in the Democratic party, an opposing force to President Donald Trump, a champion of the #MeToo movement, and a crusader for the rights of car buyers and other consumers, Schneiderman, 63, leaves office under a cloud of disgrace. His resignation came within hours of the publication of a New Yorker article detailing claims of assault and threats against four women with whom he was romantically involved.
“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,” Schneiderman announced yesterday. “I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
The New Yorker report describes Schneiderman as a “‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ figure” and details a series of drunken assaults on romantic partners, followed, in some cases, by threats of reprisal should the women speak out. Earlier Monday, Schneiderman refuted the charges, stating on Twitter 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 nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
The pressure to resign mounted quickly. By mid-afternoon, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo had effectively asked Schneiderman to step down, telling reporters “No one is above the law” and “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.”
Schneiderman is familiar to auto dealers nationwide as the face of a statewide campaign to crack down on such bad practices as payment packing, the sale of unwanted, worthless, or nonexistent F&I products, false advertising, and predatory lending. As recently as March, Schneiderman claimed to have recovered more than $19 million in restitution and penalties from New York dealers on behalf of more than 29,000 complainants.
“The best weapon against fraud is an informed consumer,” Schneiderman said at the time. “Fraudsters will always look for new ways to line their pockets at the expense of unsuspecting consumers.”
A spokesman for the Manhattan district attorney’s office told CNN an investigation into Schneiderman’s conduct was opened shortly following his resignation. In a statement, the New York Police Department announced it had not received any complaints against him but “will investigate them thoroughly” if any are filed.
Michelle Manning Barish, a political activist who was in a relationship with Schneiderman from 2013 to 2015, was one of two accusers to speak to The New Yorker on the record. She told the magazine she decided to come forward in the hopes of protecting other women — and after watching the former AG collect accolades for his support of women’s rights.
“His hypocrisy is epic,” she said. “He’s fooled so many people.”