State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman—who has snatched headlines with legal actions against President Donald Trump‘s real estate seminar program and personal foundation—today declared he could and would pursue the commander-in-chief for offenses , though he declined to elaborate on his ongoing investigations.
Appearing on the Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, the liberal Democratic prosecutor noted that he was the only state official involved in the suite of fraud suits against the Trump University program, which wrung a $25 million settlement from the Republican leader just days after his election to the highest office in the land. He also recalled his October cease-and-desist letter to the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which came amid reports that it lacked licensing to raise money in New York State and that it had expended donor funds to settle personal lawsuits against Trump, and to purchase portraits of him at charity auctions that he later used to decorate his business properties.
“We have not been shy about going after Mr. Trump’s business ventures,” Schneiderman assured a caller who had rang into the show. “He has no immunity from conduct prior to his assuming the presidency.”
The attorney general’s office blocked the president from going through with plans to shut down his foundation before assuming the Oval Office last year, since the probe into the endowment was still underway. But. besides a vague allusion to the possibility of levying fines against the organization, Schneiderman declined to discuss what charges his office might bring.
He did, however, voice doubt that any of the potential wrongdoing as yet uncovered would prove strong enough to trigger impeachment proceedings.
“That’s an ongoing matter I don’t really want to comment on the details, because we’re still in the middle of it,” he said. “I do think that the, the issues related to his university and his foundation are unlikely to constitute the kind of high crimes and misdemeanors that might remove him from office.”
Still, the attorney general suggested there was still fertile ground to turn in the president’s past—either in the secretive dealings of the Trump organization, or in the multitude of sexual assault allegations made against the most powerful man in the world. Schneiderman, a former convention delegate for Hillary Clinton, maintained that his interest in pursuing such matters arose not from any political vendetta against the president but solely from a commitment to effect justice.
“There are a lot of reports of egregious acts he’s taken in the course of his business, his sexual assaults and other things—that’s all fair game. And my office has been the most aggressive office in the country about pursuing that.,” he said. “We’re not—you know, we’re not out to get Mr. Trump. We’re just out to enforce the law. And if he’s broken New York law, we will enforce the law.”
Several hours after the radio interview, Schneiderman’s office announced it would sign onto the American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit filed over the weekend on behalf of two people detained at John F. Kennedy Airport over the weekend due to Trump’s executive order barring travel from seven majority-Muslim countries. The ACLU persuaded Brooklyn Judge Ann Donnelly to temporarily enjoin the administration from deporting anybody cleared to enter the United States under former President Barack Obama, while two Massachusetts magistrates determined that it could not hold people possessing such paperwork.
Trump’s Department of Homeland Security grudgingly said it would comply with the jurist’s orders Sunday afternoon. The New York prosecutor seemed bullish about his chances of helping overturn the White House fiat entirely.
“As I’ve made clear: President Trump’s executive action is unconstitutional, unlawful and fundamentally un-American,” Schneiderman said in a statement. “I will continue to do everything in my power to not just fight this executive order, but to protect the families caught in the chaos sown by President Trump’s hasty and irresponsible implementation.”
Updated to describe Schneiderman’s involvement in the ACLU suit.