Republicans are questioning what New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and other powerful Democrats may have known about Attorney General Eric Schneiderman ahead of the bombshell report that led to his immediate resignation.
Schneiderman stepped down as the top law enforcement officer in the state Monday evening following the publication of a damning report by The New Yorker, detailing four women’s claims that he had repeatedly hit them, threatened them and demeaned them.
The graphic accusations included choking a former girlfriend and demanding another, who was born in Sri Lanka and whom Schneiderman reportedly referred to as his “brown slave,” call him “Master.”
But Republicans are questioning who knew what, and when, about the allegations that led to Schneiderman’s fall from power.
“While there had been rumors about problems with Schneiderman and allegations of substance abuse, the deeply disturbing accounts of physical and mental abuse laid out by his victims were shocking,” New York GOP Chairman Ed Cox told Fox News. “It’s always been clear Eric Schneiderman was drunk with political power, but now we know that extended to the dark annals of his personal private life.”
Cox added: “It begs the question of who in New York Democratic circles knew about this, and did he decline to prosecute Governor Cuomo’s corruption for fear of his secrets being revealed?”
But Cuomo strongly suggested New York's political leaders were in the dark about the attorney general's alleged actions.
He immediately called for Schneiderman’s resignation Monday night “given the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article,” adding he did “not believe it is possible for Eric Schneiderman to continue to serve as attorney general.”
Cuomo also said late Monday that he asked the New York District Attorney to “commence an immediate investigation, and proceed as the facts merit.”
“The attorney general is looking at a possible criminal investigation if the DA decides to go that way,” Cuomo said during a press briefing Tuesday.
A spokesman for Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance confirmed the probe late Tuesday. "Our office has opened an investigation into the recently reported allegations concerning Mr. Schneiderman,” Vance spokesman Danny Frost said in a statement to Fox News.
A spokesperson for Cuomo did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment as to when the governor learned of the allegations against Schneiderman.
Cuomo is one of several New York Democrats with a growing national profile, and is considered a possible 2020 presidential candidate along with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand.
Fox News requested comment from several New York Democrats as to whether they were aware of any of the allegations facing Schneiderman ahead of The New Yorker article.
Among them, House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley, D-N.Y., praised the women who came forward with their stories in a statement to Fox News, but did not say when he first learned of the accusations.
“Their courageous decision to speak out will help advance this important conversation about the violence and assault that far too many women face in the workplace, in relationships, and in society,” Crowley said. “I support a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the allegations against Attorney General Schneiderman. Our public leaders must be held to the highest standards.”
Gillibrand, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (a former New York senator) did not respond to a request for comment.
The details in the New Yorker report indeed hit the political world like a bomb, genuinely stunning many who have watched the attorney general's rise to top prosecutor and one of the country's most outspoken opponents to the Trump agenda.
At a press conference in New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio condemned Schneiderman, calling the allegations against him “horrifying,” “disgusting,” and “unacceptable.”
“What we saw yesterday evening was absolutely disgusting, the attorney general of our state accused of doing things no one should ever do—let alone someone involved in law enforcement,” DeBlasio told reporters Tuesday, explaining that he found out “like so many people in this city, first hearing there was an article.”
“Finally when I was able to read the article I was horrified, page after page it got worse and worse,” de Blasio said. “Thank God he resigned quickly and didn’t put our state through a nightmare.”
De Blasio urged anyone “victimized” by Schneiderman who has yet to come forward to “please come forward to NYPD.”
“Rest assured—you’ll be believed and it is important to break the chain for people who can’t speak up,” de Blasio said. “The most important thing is a fast and thorough investigation.”
When asked whether they were aware of allegations against Schneiderman before the article, a spokesman for the New York Police Department told Fox News that it had “no complaints” against the attorney general on file -- but if it “receives complaints of a crime, it will investigate them thoroughly.”
But Trump himself suggested in a cryptic Sept. 11, 2013 tweet that Schneiderman had skeletons in his closet. He tweeted that Schneiderman would be “next,” following the resignations of Gov. Eliot Spitzer over a prostitutional scandal and Rep. Anthony Weiner over a lewd texting scandal.
“Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone—next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner,” Trump tweeted.
The White House did not immediately respond to Fox News’ request for comment.
Schneiderman denied the accusations and defended himself in a statement Monday night.
“In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone,” Schneiderman said. “I have never engaged in non-consensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.”
On Tuesday, Cuomo confirmed New York Solicitor General Barbara Underwood would take over as interim attorney general until the general election in November.
Fox News’ Adam Shaw and Whitney Ksiazek contributed to this report.