New York’s attorney general is positioning himself to be top independent watchdog of the Trump administration.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has hired on Howard McMaster, a top-flight public corruption prosecutor, to focus specifically on President Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal reports.
McMaster was until recently the public corruption ace in fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s office, where he helped put powerful Democratic state House Speaker Sheldon Silver behind bars on felony corruption charges.
Scheiderman spokesman Eric Soufer confirmed the hire and said McMaster would work on civil and criminal investigations, including potential litigation against the Trump administration.
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (pictured) has hired on Howard McMaster, a top-flight public corruption prosecutor, to focus specifically on President Donald Trump
With Trump in control of the executive branch, including the federal Department of Justice, and Republican majorities in the House and Senate, a network of Democrat state attorneys general has emerged as a significant legal watchdog to his administration.
State attorneys general were behind the lawsuits that obtained court orders blocking Trump’s controversial ‘Muslim’ ban. New York’s Schneiderman was among them, joining Washington state’s AG in a multi-state lawsuit against the second immigration ban.
Schneiderman was also one of the prosecutors who took Trump to task over Trump University, in a civil suit filed in 2013. Trump settled that suit and others for a combined $25million shortly after his election in November.
He was also quick to pounce when the Washington Post in September revealed that the Donald J. Trump Foundation was not registered to solicit donations in New York, and promptly sent the foundation a ‘Notice of Violation’ letter. That investigation is ongoing, and Trump has said he plans to dissolve the foundation.
But the jewel Schneiderman is eyeing for his prosecutorial crown is said to be a case against Trump for violating the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause, which prohibits officeholders from accepting payments from foreign governments.
That’s supposedly where McMaster, with his expertise in public corruption, could come into play.
Schneiderman revealed last month at a state attorneys general conference that his office was planning to investigate possible conflicts of interest in the Trump administration, including potential emoluments violations, the Huffington Post reported.
‘Certainly, my office is looking at anything that’s passed on to us and doing our own research,’ Schneiderman said at the time.
‘We’ve had meetings with people discussing these matters already.’ But he said it was ‘premature to say one way or another how this is going to proceed.’