A little over a year ago, the insider website Politico wondered whether state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman ultimately would “take down Donald Trump.”
Schneiderman, a Democrat from the West Side of Manhattan, had won a $25 million settlement against Trump University and had challenged the new Republican president on a number of issues.
And if Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo were to run for president in the 2020 election cycle, who better than Schneiderman, with his pro-consumer, anti-Trump and pro-environment credentials, to step up to the governor’s chair?
That political trajectory ended when Schneiderman, 63, resigned, effective at the close of business Tuesday, after an article in The New Yorker magazine reported that four women alleged Schneiderman had physically assaulted them.
Schneiderman, hours after the article was published Monday, denied the allegations but said he was resigning because he could no longer be an effective attorney general.
Shortly before the allegations were published, Schneiderman and a coalition of eight state attorneys general had called on the Trump administration to halt a proposed rule on how science is used in decision-making.
“The Trump administration continues to put special interests before New Yorkers’ health and environment,” Schneiderman said in a news release.
Schneiderman had raised his profile nationally among progressives by filing some 100 lawsuits against Trump, particularly on environmental and immigration matters.
Schneiderman was a vocal supporter of the #MeToo movement and a harsh critic of Harvey Weinstein, the Hollywood mogul accused of sexual assault and harassment by dozens of women.
In fact, Schneiderman launched an investigation of Weinstein last fall and filed a civil rights lawsuit in February accusing him of “pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation and discrimination.”
The turn of events Monday was especially shocking to women’s groups who considered Schneiderman a powerful ally.
Schneiderman, a graduate of Amherst College and Harvard Law School, first was elected attorney general in 2010 after emerging from a hard-fought, five-way Democratic primary that included then-Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice. Schneiderman rolled to re-election in 2014.
He was elected to the state Senate in 1998 and won re-election every two years until 2010.
Schneiderman was in private law practice before running for state Senate. Before becoming a lawyer, Schneiderman had worked briefly as a deputy sheriff in western Massachusetts.
He is divorced from Jennifer Cunningham, a Democratic political strategist.