“This morning, I’m grateful to work with the best colleagues in the business — including Barbara Underwood, who will be acting NY AG,” Amy Spitalnick, press secretary for the New York Attorney, tweeted from a verified account. “She’s argued 20 cases before SCOTUS, clerked for Thurgood Marshall, & much more. The work continues.”
Underwood’s appointment comes less than a day after a stunning story in The New Yorker detailed four women’s allegations that Schneiderman violently assaulted them.
Two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, spoke on the record to the magazine, saying they had been romantically involved with Schneiderman but that the violence was nonconsensual. The New Yorker described the violence as occurring “often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent.”
Schneiderman’s stunning fall ends what had been a promising prospective career in Democratic politics. The attorney general was a frequent critic of President Donald Trump and had been a vocal proponent for women’s rights and for the #MeToo movement.
But just hours after The New Yorker story published, he resigned.
“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. I therefore resign my office, effective at the close of business on May 8, 2018.”
Schneiderman called the activity role-play
Schneiderman released a statement on Twitter Monday saying he had engaged in “role-playing.”
“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity,” he wrote. “I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
But on CNN’s “New Day” on Tuesday, reporter Ronan Farrow rejected Schneiderman’s claim that the alleged violence was a form of sexual role-play.
“This was not role-playing. This was not ’50 Shades of Gray.’ It wasn’t in a gray area at all,” Farrow said. “This was activity that happened, in many cases, fully clothed, outside of a sexual context during arguments.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo was one of several political allies who called on Schneiderman to resign, given the allegations.
“No one is above the law, including New York’s top legal officer,” Cuomo said in a statement. “I will be asking an appropriate New York District Attorney to commence an immediate investigation, and proceed as the facts merit.”
A spokesman for the Manhattan District Attorney’s office said Monday evening it has opened an investigation into the allegations against the attorney general.
Schneiderman’s ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, also came to his defense Monday evening, saying that the allegations “are completely inconsistent with the man I know.”
“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,” Cunningham said.