Following accusations by four women that he had engaged in repeated physical abuse, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has resigned. Schneiderman has issued 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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
The resignation of Schneiderman will draw a high degree of attention because of his involvement in the ongoing investigation of Donald Trump, Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen, and other associates. Because Trump’s pardoning power does not extend to crimes charged at the state level, many people have been looking to Schneiderman’s office as a failsafe in case Trump decided to suspend the investigation of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and pardon those connected with his campaign.
Schneiderman had also been involved in the #MeToo movement from the other side, including moving to revive charges against producer Harvey Weinstein. He has also championed legislation providing harsher penalties for physical and sexual abuse of women.
It’s unclear how Schneiderman’s resignation will affect any cases currently under investigation or prosecution. Republicans have already begun working on ads and commentaries tying Schneiderman to other Democrats.
Mr. Schneiderman initially denied abusing the women, saying in a statement: “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.”
However, the four women who accused Schneiderman gave convincing accounts of violence that including painful slapping, use of overpowering force, and threats to use the power of his office. They made it clear that his actions went well beyond role-playing and were not consensual.