New York Attorney General Eric “Shakedown” Schneiderman has just been walloped with an ethics complaint.
A long and meticulously detailed 228-page ethics complaint.
Filed by… Donald Trump.
While the word isn’t in the complaint, the New York State Constitution has a specific term for what Trump is describing.
That would be found in Article XIII, Section 5, which provides for the removal of state officials — including the attorney general — for “misconduct or malversation….”
What is “malversation”? Webster’s defines it this way:
improper or corrupt behavior, esp. in public office
How did Schneiderman respond?
By sending out an ex-Obama campaign staffer to denounce Trump — thereby making Trump’s point exactly. A point to which we will return.
Let’s talk malversation, shall we? Specifically the malversation of Eric Schneiderman. In chapter and verse.
Trump begins his complaint by immediately issuing “respectfully” a “request that the New York State Joint Commission on Public Ethics commence an investigation into the misconduct of New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman…. As detailed in this Complaint, Mr. Schneiderman committed multiple violations of New York Public Officers Law Section 74 by, among other illegal conduct, soliciting campaign contributions and other fundraising endorsements from Mr. Trump and other high profile Trump Org. executives during an active investigation by the Office of the Attorney (the ‘OAG’) into Trump Org.’s affiliate, Trump Entrepreneurial Initiative… (TEI).”
Got that? Charges that Mr. Schneiderman — whom we have taken to calling “Shakedown Schneiderman” for what are now seriously obvious reasons — “committed multiple violations” of the very laws he is specifically charged with enforcing.
Which is, according to the New York State Constitution, “malversation.”
Follow the money, Woodward and Bernstein were told when uncovering the Watergate scandal. Reading Donald Trump’s voluminous ethics complaint filed this week against Schneiderman, the money trail — make that the malversation trail —right down to photo copies of cashed checks, is easy to follow. So let’s follow it.
• 2010: Candidate for Attorney General of New York Eric Schneiderman makes two unannounced visits to Donald Trump in Trump’s Fifth Avenue Trump Tower offices. His campaign is struggling and he is there, records the complaint, “to personally request that Mr. Trump contribute to his campaign.” Trump says that “I also received numerous phone calls from Mr. Schneiderman and his representatives seeking financial support for his campaign.”
• October 12, 2010: Donald Trump gives Schneiderman’s campaign a $12,500 campaign contribution.
• 2010: “At Mr. Schneiderman’s specific request, I also introduced him to a number of wealthy New Yorkers so that he could solicit campaign contributions.”
Stop here. What comes next, which I will supply with bold print, begins to show Schneiderman’s shakedown method of operation kicking in. Says The Donald:
But for Mr. Schneiderman, it was never enough. Even though his election was not of particular importance to me, Mr. Schneiderman always wanted more and acted as if I was not doing my part to assist him in his election campaign.
Recall that what would later become a lawsuit by the Attorney General over what had originally been called Trump University — its name voluntarily changed to the Trump Entrepreneurial Initiative (TEI) after a complaint from New York bureaucrats over the use of the word “university” — was set in motion by a frivolous complaint from a handful of students (out of 10,000!) who decided they were unhappy with their results from TEI. Thousands of others — the overwhelming majority — were perfectly happy, of course, and in fact not just happy campers but enthusiastic as recorded by the attendees themselves in voluntary written assessments of TEI. But there’s always a few in any crowd, and this being an event bearing the name of Donald Trump, eventually those few made their way with what the Trump complaint calls a “frivolous lawsuit” to the inevitable lawyers. Specifically they made their way to the law firm of Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd LLP.
Which is why it is important to note this revelation from Trump’s filing.
• October 25, 2010: Eric Schneiderman “according to public records, accepted $15,000 in campaign contributions from attorneys Patrick Daniels and Michael Dowd, both founding partners with the law firm of Robbins, Geller, Rudman and Dowd LLP.”
Why is this important? Trump’s filing again, bold emphasis mine:
These contributions were particularly significant in that, at the time they were made, the Robbins Geller firm was already representing former students… in a lawsuit against TEI in the United States District Court for the Southern District of California.
• January 1, 2011: Eric Schneiderman is sworn in as Attorney General of New York. He takes the following oath as provided by the New York State Constitution:
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the constitution of the United States, and the constitution of the State of New York, and that I will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of attorney general, according to the best of my ability;
• May 17, 2011: “…a mere six months after accepting my (October) campaign contribution, Mr. Schneiderman and the Office of the Attorney General (‘OAG’) launched an investigation into TEI by serving… a subpoena demanding the production of thousands of documents from TEI. Notably, in the subpoena, the OAG focused their inquiry on virtually the exact same issues that were already being litigated in the California action filed by the Robbins Geller firm. Prior to receiving the subpoena, the OAG had never given any indication that it was even considering investigating TEI.”
The investigation was in fact part of a larger investigation into for-profit universitiesand trade schools operating in New York, focused “primarily” on those receiving state or federal subsidies, which TEI was not receiving.
Now. What comes next is a key to understanding the way Schneiderman operates his “malversation.”
• May 17, 2011: “Within literally minutes of receiving the subpoena, Trump Org. received a call from New York Times reporter Michael Barbaro, seeking comment from the Trump Parties regarding the detailed allegations set forth in the subpoena for an article he was set to publish.”
This was quickly followed by a flood of calls from “reporters from numerous, other media outlets.”
This was what was termed in this space a few weeks back in a story on Trump’s legal response to the Schneiderman lawsuit as the “horse head in the bed” routine. I described it this way:
You remember Khartoum the race horse. The scene is immortalized in the Oscar-winning film The Godfather.
The rich and famous Hollywood producer Jack Woltz, owner of the $600,000 Secretariat-like race horse Khartoum, refuses to put Mafia Don Vito Corleone’s favored godson Johnny Fontane in a movie. One fine morning, Woltz awakens, horrified, to find the severed head of his beloved race horse — whom he has lovingly described beforehand as “the greatest racehorse in the world” — in his blood-soaked bed. As seen here in the legendary scene from the film version of Mario Puzo’s bestselling novel. Message delivered, Don Corleone’s god son Johnny Fontane gets his movie part from the thoroughly terrified movie producer.
In other words, Trump was to settle — or else. He had now been served with a subpoena for documents, and was cooperating fully, astonished at finding himself in this position.
What comes next is a truly remarkable series of details in the Malversation of Eric Schneiderman.
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