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Can Hillary Clinton Replace Eric Schneiderman? Here's How An Interim AG Is Chosen

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On Monday, May 7, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was at the center of a bombshell report that featured four women alleging habitual physical and psychological abuse. Shortly after the report's publication, Schneiderman was attorney general no more, with the 63-year-old resigning from his post on Monday night. Now, among other important questions the resignation has raised, is who will become the new attorney general, and many people are wondering if Hillary Clinton will replace Eric Schneiderman, or if it will be another prominent New York politician.

In a statement provided to The New Yorker, which first reported on the allegations against the attorney general, Schneiderman said, "In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross."

As for who will replace Schneiderman as attorney general, the answer will be decided by the state's legislature.

New York law dictates that both houses of the legislature — the state senate and the state assembly — are responsible for holding a joint session to vote for an interim attorney general in the event of a resignation. The interim AG then holds the office for the remainder of the original AG's term.

In this case, Schneiderman's term is set to conclude at the end of 2018. The election for a new attorney general — which Schneiderman was set to contest — will be held in November. Two months prior, in September, the primary to decide the Democratic nominee for the race will be held.

Before Schneiderman's resignation, that primary looked to be all but a formality, as no major democratic figures planned to run against him. Now, however, it's anybody's guess as to who will be selected by the state's legislature, and, subsequently, who will win the Democratic primary. On the other side of the aisle, corporate lawyer Manny Alicandro is running for attorney general as a Republican, according to Manhattan-based TV station NY 1.

In the meantime, New York's state solicitor general Barbara Underwood will become the acting attorney general, according to the New York Daily News, as others speculate who could be the next permanent AG.

On Monday night, Hillary Clinton's name was brought up, specifically by the likes of Esquire columnist Charles Pierce and Guardian political reporter Ben Jacobs, the latter regarding a Hillary-for-AG shout as a "hot take." Clinton is, of course, a Yale Law graduate, an esteemed New York state politician, and the former Secretary of State.

Then there were others, like CNN's Jeff Toobin, who raised the possibility of Preet Bharara seeking the position. Bharara is a former US attorney for the southern district of New York. He was fired by President Donald Trump in March 2017 after he refused to resign. His resignation was requested by US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Since his firing, Bharara has maintained visibility as a constant critic of the Trump administration.

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The allegations of abuse against now-former New York Attorney General Schneiderman were reported for The New Yorker by Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow. Farrow also reported bombshell pieces for The New Yorker about disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein for the same magazine, while Mayer has been an investigative reporter for the magazine for over two decades.

The sources for the allegations were four women whom Schneiderman — who had been New York's attorney general since 2010 — reportedly dated within the last five years. All four allege that he slapped them across the face. Some of the stories more specifically allege that Schneiderman would slap women repeatedly during sex, without consent, and that he threatened to kill the women he dated.

In a statement announcing his resignation, Schneiderman said he "strongly contests" those claims, saying,

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.

The allegations against Schneiderman are made all the more notable by the fact that he had positioned himself as a champion of women during his term, which including filing a civil rights lawsuit against Weinstein after allegations against him were reported.

Meanwhile, The New Yorker's report shared a common theme with other stories of alleged abuse: women who say they felt helpless because of the stature of the men they were accusing.

"What do you do if your abuser is the top law-enforcement official in the state?" one accuser, Tanya Selvaratnam, asked in the story.

Schneiderman's resignation is effective at the end of Tuesday, May 8.