Yesterday evening, a story broke in the New Yorker in which four women alleged physical assault at the hands of Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. Within hours, Schneiderman resigned his position as Attorney General, issuing a statement last night:
“It’s been my great honor and privilege to serve as Attorney General for the people of the State of New York. 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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
As part of the ongoing #MeToo movement, which started in Hollywood and has brought a moment of reckoning to abusers in positions of power everywhere, including government on both sides of the political divide, the news naturally elicited a strong response from politicians across Brooklyn.
Even without official statements on the matter, many took to Twitter to express their support for the women who came forward, their agreement with Schneiderman’s decision to resign, and also, their shock that such an outspoken proponent of the #MeToo movement would appear to be hiding a past of violence against women:
I’m appalled by the violent, sexist behavior of Eric Schneiderman reported by four women who deserved — at a minimum — respect, consent, and not to be assaulted. Resignation was his only choice.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) May 8, 2018
“Schneiderman has been a mentor of mine,” Lander continued, saying he was “stunned & deeply disappointed” by the news. The councilmember continued in a series of tweets:
The cruel behavior described by these four brave women is most vile thing, of course. But through his hypocrisy, he has also let down so many people who were counting on leadership w/integrity. To be honest, it feels dizzying, as though one of the mooring lines has come undone.
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) May 8, 2018
Lander praised the #MeToo movement for creating a space where women who have similarly suffered can come forward, and where powerful figures are held accountable for their actions. He also pointed to Barbara Underwood’s role as acting attorney general as an overdue development as well.
Just as Schneiderman once pushed for further investigation into the toppled ur-abuser of the #MeToo movement, Harvey Weinstein, so too are officials calling for a further accounting of Schneiderman’s actions:
The abuse these courageous women suffered at the hands of Eric Schneiderman is horrendous. Domestic and sexual violence are pervasive and gravely serious. This resignation is only the first step towards justice. We need a full investigation.
— Mark Treyger (@MarkTreyger718) May 8, 2018
Abuse of power comes in many forms. Public service is no place for “powerful” men who think they can act with impunity and assert power by sexually dominating and humiliating women. Schneiderman must be fully investigated and held accountable for his actions.
— Justin Brannan (@JustinBrannan) May 8, 2018
In an email, an NYPD spokesperson said, “The NYPD has no complaints on file. If the NYPD receives complaints of a crime, it will investigate them thoroughly.”
Agreeing with Schneiderman’s decision to resign, Coucilmember Jumaane Williams took the opportunity to draw a connection to one of the Attorney General’s long-time opponents: Trump.
As increasingly powerful politicians are made to answer for their abuses, Williams wants to know why the President hasn’t yet had to answer to his myriad accusers as well.
I commend the 4 brave women who spoke out against Schneiderman’s disturbing abuse– which rightfully resulted in his resignation. How is it that with so many women continuing to speak out against Trump’s abusive & demeaning attacks, he remains President? #TimesUp #MeToo
— Jumaane Williams (@JumaaneWilliams) May 8, 2018
With Schneiderman’s resignation today, State Solicitor General Barbara Underwood will fill the role of acting attorney general, while Democrats in the state assembly mull a replacement.
Acting Attorney General Underwood released a statement today at noon, though she did not mention the outgoing AG in any way, instead focusing on the work at hand:
“I am honored to serve the people of New York as acting Attorney General. The work of this office is critically important. Our office has never been stronger, and this extraordinarily talented, dedicated, and tireless team of public servants will ensure that our work continues without interruption.
Surely, the long-reaching implications of this news will continue for weeks, but for now, Councilmember Rafael Espinal’s tweet last night, sent around the time of the announcement, sums up the feelings of many New Yorkers:
— Rafael L Espinal Jr. (@RLEspinal) May 8, 2018