Team Trump went into full celebration mode this week at the resignation of the attorney general of New York. Don Jr. took to Twitter, gleefully ridiculing the sudden demise of Eric Schneiderman’s career. Kellyanne Conway fired out a terse, “Gotcha.” I’ll assume Donald Trump himself was thrilled, since he has previously called Schneiderman “dopey,” “lightweight” and “a total loser.”
Here is the backstory: Schneiderman was torched by a report in The New Yorker alleging he had sexual relations with and physically abused several women. He issued a statement denying it and making a cryptic reference to “role playing,” but the damage was done. As an outspoken supporter of the #MeToo movement, he faced a social media storm, and his abrupt departure seemed designed to limit the damage — especially for the Democratic party in which he was something of a hero.
You see, Schneiderman was not just another state AG. He was Donald Trump’s bête noire, assailing the New York billionaire at every turn. That lawsuit against Trump University which ended in a $25 million settlement against Trump? That was Schneiderman’s work. He was also behind legal challenges to the administration’s travel ban, relaxing of pollution guidelines, rollbacks of healthcare reform, the DACA immigration dispute, and on and on.
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Just six months into the Trump presidency, he happily boasted, “I’ve developed a bit of a reputation … as a guy who sues Donald Trump and the federal government!” Democrats loved it, and many saw Schneiderman as the tip of the legal spear for state action against Trump and his cronies if the Russia probe should come up empty — or the president should start passing out federal pardons.
And now Schneiderman is gone. But the Trumpsters might want to temper their jubilation. The irony won’t be lost on anyone that Schneiderman fell to yet another accusation of sexual misconduct by a powerful man. (Ahem.) And Democrats in New York are already lining up possible replacements for the AG in this fall’s election, including some who could prove just as ferocious in their pursuit of the president.