Zephyr Teachout

Monica Miller/WCBS 880; File

Teachout Says She'd Stand Up To Cuomo, Take On Trump As N.Y. Attorney General

June 11, 2018 - 4:28 pm

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) -- Zephyr Teachout once ran for governor of New York, and now she wants to be the next state attorney general.

Teachout is one of three candidates running in the Democratic primary for attorney general, along with New York City Public Advocate Letitia James and U.S. Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney (D-New York).

Teachout joined WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot and Paul Murnane to talk about her campaign Monday morning. She said she would take on corruption in Albany – a subject in which she is already an expert.

“I wish I didn’t have to be an expert, and I wish we didn’t have the problems we do in New York state,” she said. “But it’s kind of been a rolling scandal – every few years, somebody says they’re going to clean it up, and we just keep getting more convictions, and more, you know, stories about people pushing things under the rug. So the attorney general of New York needs to be ready to take on people in power – even if they’re members of their own party.”

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the New York state Democratic Party have already endorsed James for attorney general. Last week, Maloney said not being endorsed by the party or Cuomo was a “feature, not a bug,” as someone independent is needed in the office.

For her part, Teachout said she was not afraid to take on the governor.

“You know, back four years ago, you may remember Andrew Cuomo shut down an anti-corruption commission as it started to get to close to his own donors, and I was one of the few people to speak up. One of the things we see in New York is people are often really silent when things happen. They say: ‘I don’t really want to get in trouble. I don’t want to get in trouble with the governor. I don’t want to get in trouble with powerful interests,’” she said. “And you know about me that I will not be silenced.”

Teachout also said she believes the New York Attorney General’s office is in a unique position to take on President Donald Trump, whom she claimed has violated the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution.

“One of the things that we see, just on its face, is that Donald Trump is using his businesses to get cash from foreign governments,” she said. “That’s in direct violation of the U.S. Constitution – a clause called the Emoluments Clause, which I’m an expert in, and actually, I was involved in one of the first lawsuits against Donald Trump for violating that provision of the Constitution.”

Since Trump’s businesses are in New York, the New York AG is the person to sue Trump on allegations that he is violating the Constitution, Teachout said.

Last month, Attorney General Eric Schneiderman was the subject of a New Yorker article in which four women he dated or met romantically accused him of nonconsensual physical violence. Schneiderman resigned within hours of the publication of the article.

New York state Solicitor General Barbara Underwood was appointed to the AG post on an interim basis and was voted in by the state Legislature to keep the seat through the end of the year. Underwood is not running to be elected to the seat.