Politics

NY AG Hires Prominent Obama-Era Prosecutor To Target Trump

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman hired a prosecutor who served under a terminated Obama-era U.S. attorney to focus on corruption cases involving the Trump administration, according to a report published Monday.

Schneiderman’s decision to hire Howard Master may indicate the New York Democrat plans on flooding President Donald Trump and his administration with legal filings, subpoenas, and lawsuits, Wall Street Journal reported.

Master’s primary responsibility, according to Schneiderman’s office, will be investigating and possibly prosecuting the Trump administration for possible civil rights abuses.

“[He] will be working on a wide range of civil and criminal investigations and enforcement matters, including public corruption, complex civil litigation,” Eric Soufer, a spokesman for Schneiderman, told WSJ.

The White House has not responded to requests for comment by WSJ.

Master served under U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, who President Trump fired earlier this month after refusing to resign at Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s request.

“I did not resign,” Bharara tweeted March 10. “Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”

The Trump administration’s decision to dismiss Bharara, among other attorneys, is not unprecedented. Former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton each fired about 90 attorneys in the early months of their respective presidencies.

Schneiderman has a history of going after energy companies and the Trump administration more generally, including a fraud lawsuit in 2013 targeting the president’s real estate school: Trump University. He also joined some of his fellow attorneys general in challenging Trump’s temporary immigration ban and climate change reversal.

He has also become a thorn in the side of ExxonMobil. New York’s legal crusader engaged in a years-long probe into the oil company’s alleged concealing of climate change data from shareholders and the public.

Schneiderman refuses to disclose email communications between his office and wealthy donors, such as Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Rockefeller Family Fund, and billionaire activist Tom Steyer – most of whom have spent months lobbying the attorney general to go after Exxon. He uses a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) “law enforcement” exemption to justify blocking the requests, and claims his communication with the donors is part of the Exxon investigation.

He went after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who served as Exxon’s CEO before joining Trump’s administration, earlier this month for using the alias “Wayne Tracker” in email exchanges with company executives. Schneiderman claimed the alias was meant to conceal information about Exxon’s climate research.

Exxon, for its part, believes the New York Democrat’s accusation unfounded. The company’s lawyers claimed in a legal finding last week that all the information in Tillerson’s private account could be found in emails with other executives.

And most recently, Schneiderman joined the Washington state lawsuit against the Trump’s revised immigration ban.

“The Trump administration’s continued intent to discriminate against Muslims is clear, and it undermines New York’s families, institutions and economy,” Schneiderman told reporters.

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