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New York State Assemblywoman Weighs In On Attorney General's Resignation

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

For more on the fallout from Eric Schneiderman's resignation as New York attorney general, we're going to turn now to New York State Assemblymember Crystal Peoples-Stokes. She's a Democrat from Buffalo and the chair of the state's Legislative Women's Caucus. Welcome to the program.

CRYSTAL PEOPLES-STOKES: Thank you, appreciate you having me.

CORNISH: So just to start, what went through your mind when you heard about this resignation and these allegations?

PEOPLES-STOKES: Well, actually, I heard the allegations probably about maybe 30 minutes or so before I heard of the resignation. And the first thing I thought was, wow, what a punch in the gut. I mean, I felt really bad not just because, you know, these women were abused but because there's been so much of it. And it just made me feel like, for god sakes, when is this going to end? This guy should go. I mean, I do know him, but I think he should resign. And 30 minutes later, he did exactly that.

So it's just been a - you know, quite a challenge around the Capitol today in Albany. A lot of conversations going on individually, but a lot of conversations going on collectively as well. So we're looking, you know, to take this thing, as bittersweet as it is, and look for an opportunity to get a better attorney general that will follow through with some of the major progressive issues that Mr. Schneiderman had (unintelligible).

CORNISH: As we heard in our report - from our reporter earlier, looking at Anthony Weiner or Eliot Spitzer and now Eric Schneiderman, do you think New York Democrats have a problem with who they let rise to the top?

PEOPLES-STOKES: I don't know that New York Democrats have a problem with who they let rise, but I know that New York Democrats and particularly New York Democratic women are ready for a woman to move into that office. So that's what we're going to be looking to see if we can make happen.

CORNISH: We know it's up to the New York State Legislature to pick a replacement for Schneiderman. And I - members met this morning to discuss it. How did that meeting go?

PEOPLES-STOKES: Well, it didn't get close to any names being put on the table. It did get a full vetting of what the process is and what we have to go through in order to be able to get to that state. The thing that somehow - kind of complicates it a little bit is the fact that the state Democratic Party convenes within 13 days, on the 23rd of this month. So I think we still have to work through the policy that allows us the ability to make the appointment and the politics of what happens at the Democratic state convention in a few weeks. And I think we'll probably work through that relatively quickly.

CORNISH: Schneiderman was an outspoken advocate for women. He was a critic of President Trump. One of the women in the New Yorker story said that friends advised her not to speak out about what had happened to her or her allegations because he was, quote, "too valuable a politician" for Democrats to lose. What does that tell you?

PEOPLES-STOKES: Well, I don't think that's a really good friend that would advise you not to speak out when somebody hurts you. Nobody is more important than you yourself. And so if you're hurt, you should speak out and make sure that not only are you not hurt anymore but that no one else is hurt either. So I, you know, want to commend these women for finally having the courage to do just that. No telling how many people they've saved the opportunity - the hurt that they experienced. They've saved numerous women. So I really do respect and appreciate them. And I would question whether or not somebody is your friend that they would say that. Nobody is that important.

CORNISH: That's Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York assemblywoman from Buffalo. She's also chair of the New York Legislative Women's Caucus. Thank you for speaking with ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

PEOPLES-STOKES: You're very welcome. You all have a great day.

(SOUNDBITE OF NAS SONG, "SURVIVING THE TIMES") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.