Eric Schneiderman, powerful Dem who took on Weinstein, is accused of violence against women, drug abuse in shocking report

A bombshell exposé published Monday reveals a long list of damaging accusations against the powerful Democratic N.Y. Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, including violence against four women during romantic relationships or encounters, drinking and abusing prescription drugs.

The allegations were revealed in a wide-ranging New Yorker piece on Monday night, co-written by Ronan Farrow. Schneiderman, long a pillar of New York's Democratic establishment and a critic of President Trump, has cast himself as a supporter of the #MeToo movement after Farrow uncovered a long list of rape and sexual harassment accusations against the now-disgraced Hollywood titan Harvey Weinstein.


The accusations included hitting and choking women without their consent, asking to use "about half" of a woman's prescription of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, and mocking anti-gun demonstrators including parents from Sandy Hook Elementary School, the site of the 2012 shooting massacre, as "losers."

Two of the politician's accusers, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, spoke to the magazine on the record to document claims that Schneiderman nonconsensually hit and choked them. Two other women made similar accusations against him, but declined to be identified.

A third woman who also was involved with him told her story to the other two women, but said she was too frightened to come forward. A fourth woman said Schneiderman slapped her when she rebuffed him, but also asked to remain unidentified. The New Yorker said it vetted the third woman's allegations, and saw a photo of what the fourth woman said was her injury.

Manning Barish told the magazine that she dated Schneiderman, now 63, between the summer of 2013 and New Year's Day 2015. According to her account, Schneiderman started abusing her weeks after their relationship became physical. Though she reconciled with him after an initial incident, Manning Barish said that Schneiderman often would slap her during sex without her consent and made critical comments about her appearance.

He "would almost always drink two bottles of wine in a night, then bring a bottle of Scotch into the bedroom. He would get absolutely plastered five nights out of seven," Manning Barish said.

In one instance, she said Schneiderman told her to get a small tattoo removed from her wrist. According to her, he said the body art was inappropriate for her if she was to be a politician's wife.

According to the article, Manning Barish said Schneiderman "would be 'shaking me and grabbing my face' while demanding that she repeat such things as 'I'm a little wh---.'" On another occasion, Manning Barish says that Schneiderman told her "If you ever left me, I'd kill you."

Manning Barish said Schneiderman often asked to to refill her Xanax prescription so that he could take "about half" the pills for himself. She also said he frequently mocked her activism on behalf of progressive causes, in once instance referring to anti-gun demonstrators as "losers."

"Taking a strong woman and tearing her to pieces is [Schneiderman's] jam," she told the magazine.

The acclaimed author Salman Rushdie, who reportedly dated Manning Barish before Schneiderman did, said she told the novelist about the alleged abuse. "She called me and told me he had hit her... She was obviously very upset. I was horrified."

Selvaratnam told the New Yorker she was involved with Schneiderman between the summer of 2016 and the fall of 2017. She said that he started physically abusing her in bed and asking her to find another woman for a threesome. Schneiderman also asked her to "call him Master, and he’d slap me until I did."

"[H]e started calling me his 'brown slave' and demanding that I repeat that I was 'his property,'" Selvaratnam told the magazine.

Schneiderman, a former New York state senator who was elected state attorney general in 2010, issued a statement to the magazine saying: "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." He later posted the same statement on his official Twitter account and a representative emailed the same statement when contacted for comment by Fox News.

Schneiderman's ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, said in a statement that "I've known Eric for nearly 35 years as a husband, father and friend. These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values and a loving father. I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true."

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo called on Schneiderman to resign "for the good of the office" in a statement Monday night.

"No one is above the law, including New York's top legal officer," said Cuomo, who cited "the damning pattern of facts and corroboration laid out in the article." The governor added that he would ask for an "immediate investigation" and would "proceed as the facts merit."

New York State Republican Party Chairman Ed Cox also said Schneiderman should resign, calling the allegations against the attorney general "deeply dark and disturbing."

"It's clear Mr. Schneiderman has no place holding any public office, let alone as the state's highest law enforcement officer," Cox said in a statement. "He must resign from office and be held accountable for his crimes."

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, also said Schneiderman should go: "The violent actions described by multiple women in this story are abhorrent. Based on this extensive and serious reporting, I do not believe that Eric Schneiderman should continue to serve as Attorney General. There should be a full and immediate investigation into these credible allegations."

Selvaratnam also told the magazine that she met with another former girlfriend of Schneiderman in February of this year. The unidentified woman told Selvaratnam that Schneiderman had slapped, choked and spat at her and also belittled her appearance.

The woman told Selvaratnam that she had told "several friends" about Schneiderman's behavior. According to The New Yorker: "A number of them advised her to keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose."

After the story was published Monday night, Manning Barish tweeted: "After the most difficult month of my life-I spoke up. For my daughter and for all women. I could not remain silent and encourage other women to be brave for me."

In February, Schneiderman filed a civil rights lawsuit against the board of The Weinstein Company and brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein. Schneiderman alleged that top executives at the film company were aware of Harvey Weinstein’s years of alleged sexual harassment and abuse, but did nothing.

Last month, Schneiderman praised the reporting of the New Yorker and The New York Times in the Weinstein matter, which gave rise to a worldwide conversation about sexual misconduct and accusations against powerful men in media and entertainment.

"Without the reporting of the @nytimes and the @newyorker—and the brave women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they endured at the hands of powerful men—there would not be the critical national reckoning underway," Schneiderman tweeted on April 16. "A well-deserved honor."

Schneiderman also has been a longtime critic of President Trump, and has been part of several efforts to push back against some of his actions in the White House, like the rescinding of protection for immigrants brought to the U.S. illegally as children.

Last month, he urged state lawmakers to close a loophole that he said could be used to fight state charges by anyone who has received a federal pardon for similar federal charges.

A Republican opponent, Manny Alicandro, had just officially launched his candidacy on Monday. After The New Yorker report, Alicandro said, "If true, he is a disgrace and wholly unfit for the role of New York State's chief legal officer. I believe the accusers. He needs to resign his office effective immediately and the New York City Police Department needs to get to work."

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.