Schneiderman’s Fall

New York’s now-ex-Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman fell from grace in the course of half a news cycle. He denies wrongdoing, but that’s no longer relevant.

Until Monday evening New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was a public champion of the #MeToo movement. Now he appears to be the latest sickening example of the scale and insidiousness of the cruelty that movement is confronting. He resigned late Monday after The New Yorker magazine published an article in which four women accused him of abusing them physically and emotionally.

Ronan Farrow ruled. Can there be any doubt after judgment has been handed down? 

Mr. Schneiderman admitted no wrongdoing. Instead, he said in a statement that the “serious allegations, which I strongly contest,” had made it impossible to do his job.

But the allegations outlined by the women are consistent, detailed and bone-chilling.

Repeating the allegations seems almost pointless these days. The story broke late in the afternoon, and by late evening, Schneiderman resigned. He was toast within minutes, not because anything has been proven, but because Schneiderman relied on the feelings of the woke to scream “witch” at others, and exposed himself when the mob turned on him.

Not being a fan of Schneiderman’s, I shed no tears for his demise. And there is always the Schadenfreude of it all. But a person’s career, the sum total of his life and efforts to date, have been destroyed in a matter of hours based on nothing more than a magazine story.

Two women who had been in relationships with Mr. Schneiderman — Michelle Manning Barish, a liberal activist, and Tanya Selvaratnam, an author — told the magazine that he choked and hit them, often during sex, and subjected them to verbal abuse. They said he slapped them so hard that Ms. Manning Barish bled from her ear long after the blow, while Ms. Selvaratnam suffered from episodes of vertigo.

They didn’t go to the police. They didn’t file a complaint. They didn’t sue. They waited until the social agenda made it beneficial to tell their story to Ronan Farrow. They may well be telling the truth. They may not. There is a way to test their accusations.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo should appoint a responsible, independent prosecutor to investigate any possible criminal charges against Mr. Schneiderman and abuses of his office.

Every county in New York has a district attorney, whose office has no connection to the attorney general’s office. Are they incompetent to investigate? Are they untrustworthy to prosecute? What possible reason could there be for the appointment of a “responsible, independent prosecutor,” or is it just another fashion statement to have a special counsel these days?

But does it really matter? No one cares about Schneiderman otherwise, and now that he’s resigned, no one will give him another thought.

Mr. Schneiderman joins a sorry list of once-rising stars in New York’s Democratic Party whose careers imploded amid allegations of personal misconduct, including former Gov. Eliot Spitzer and former Congressman Anthony Weiner. As was the case with those men, the resignation of Mr. Schneiderman could have far-reaching consequences.

Republicans have imploded. Democrats have imploded. Women see the list of names of males (although if they were women, I learned yesterday that it would be misogynistic to call them females rather than women. Who knew?), but there are women as well. Fewer, as the universe is smaller, but still there.

In another time, one might view these indulgences as a reflection of the type of people who seek power, the fault being their arrogance. But there are no longer still waters in politics, just gushing rivers, and the answer to all questions is racism and sexism, so the flaw is Schneiderman’s toxic masculinity and not his character, his yearning for power and adoration.

Anyone involved in the effort to replace Mr. Schneiderman should remember: No one is above the law.

Remember when the New York Times waited until a person was tried and convicted to condemn him, to rush to the stake with their lit match lest they not be party to the burning of their ally yesterday and their condemned man today? But Schneiderman is male, and isn’t that more than enough for Ronan Farrow and the New York Times to pronounce his guilt?

But Schneiderman was the backup to Mueller, the stopgap if Trump was to pardon his sycophants.

The attorney general was in the midst of pushing a proposal to change New York’s double jeopardy statute so any aides to President Trump that he might pardon — in an effort to keep them from cooperating with the special counsel — could be prosecuted under state charges. Mr. Schneiderman’s moralizing may have proven hollow, but that proposal remains worthy given Mr. Trump’s continual attempts to derail the special counsel’s investigation, including raising the prospect of such pardons.

Will his replacement be as willing to undermine the law for all just to get Trump? Will his replacement have his desire for prominence, for higher office, for the applause of the mob? As much as the mob appeared willing to throw aside everything, every foundational tenet of law, every constitutional principle, to assure that Trump would fall, even if it meant destroying the very law that preserved our society for the past couple centuries, they will risk it all because of the unproved accusations of four women.

Not even the hatred of Trump is worth allowing Schneiderman to be tried and convicted before he was crushed. The fall from grace is brutal. But as much as Scneiderman’s fall may be well deserved by his own abuse of unproved accusations, he has yet to be proven guilty. Even Eric Schneiderman should not be burned at the stake before trial and conviction.

15 thoughts on “Schneiderman’s Fall

  1. wilbur

    According to The Hill, Schneiderman’s successor will be appointed by the State Legislature until a November special election. It will be interesting to see how the pardon stopgap issue comes up in the appointment process.

    1. SHG Post author

      His success is likely to be Barbara Underwood, who has been a prosecutor for as long as I can remember. Whether she’ll be willing to sacrifice the law to get Trump remains to be seen.

  2. phv3773

    The unseemly maddness of crowds aside, I’m not sure which of the major players you would have act differently. Were the women to keep quiet, or the New Yorker not to publish, or the Governor not to ask for a resignation, or Schneiderman not to give it?

    1. SHG Post author

      We see the situations as they happen, not as they might have happened. But Schneiderman spouted some anti-Trump pro-#MeToo platitudes and the mob loved him. Then Farrow wrote an article in a magazine and they burned him at the stake. How easily people’s emotions are played these days.

      1. B. McLeod

        Our society has largely descended to a clutch of simple-minded idiots, who will fall for the most transparent emotionalist manipulation. Fortunately, our current chief demagogue is a bumbling klutz, but when a true talent takes the stage, it will be a hard day for the world.

  3. B. McLeod

    In every iteration of The Terror, the mob has come to include those happy few who are most concerned with diverting attention from their own misdeeds. It is a perilous gambit, with a ton of downside risk, and we will see this one coming home to roost again and again, until The Terror has run its course.

    1. SHG Post author

      Oddly, I never read any of the Fifty Shades book, but I’m told they were very popular with a certain gendered audience.

  4. BlackBellamy

    Hey, let’s give Schneiderman a little agency, no? It’s like these things are happening to him and he has no control, the poor baby. He chose to resign. He could have said fuck you, I’ll see you in court, meanwhile I have work to do. But he folded and left the table, all on his own. No one can fire him, right? Cuomo called him, “urging” him to resign, he should have said suck it Cuomo and hung up. Stories are printed about all kinds of stuff all the time. Schneiderman read one particular one and it affected him SO MUCH he had a fainting spell and quit. So it’s either all true or he’s a pussy.

  5. Harvey A. Silverglate

    There is another possible explanation for Schneiderman’s conduct that I’ve not yet seen posited anywhere. I’m a criminal defense lawyer in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts, and I’ve come across, in my law practice, people who engage in sado-masochistic rituals and role-playing involving, in part, one party to the “game” hitting, inflicting pain, even mutilating his or her partner (drawing some blood but not a lethal quantity). The dominant figure inflicts the pain, the submissive figure endures (and, in some sense, enjoys) the pain. In the absence of consent, such conduct would be deemed a criminal attack by the dominant player upon the submissive player. One wonders how often a consenting submissive partner later claims not to have given consent. Are we now in an era when we will see consent withdrawn retroactively?
    HARVEY A. SILVERGLATE

    1. SHG Post author

      That’s an eminently realistic possibility, Harvey. But even progressive criminal defense lawyers have convicted him already. While it’s unsurprising that the “believe the women” cohort won’t consider the possibility that he’s innocent until proven guilty, it’s singularly disconcerting that young CDLs can no longer entertain the possibility either.

    2. Osama bin Pimpin

      Harvey I know how this plays out both in court of law and court of public opinion/social blackmail. No formal credentials just knowing. Contact me if you want to know more.

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