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The Latest: James to crowd: Powerless are taking power back

January 2, 2019

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on New York’s attorney general (all times local):

8:05 p.m.

New York Attorney General Letitia James has told an inauguration ceremony crowd on Ellis Island that those who feel powerless are taking power back this year.

The 60-year-old Democrat spoke Tuesday night before Gov. Andrew Cuomo took the podium.

James drew applause when she said she’ll work in a legal system where even the most powerful in the country cannot use a loophole to evade justice. She also said she would protect abortion rights and LGBTQ rights and pursue criminal justice reform.

James is the state’s first black attorney general and the first woman elected to the position.

Her predecessor, 74-year-old Barbara Underwood, was appointed in May when Eric Schneiderman resigned amid allegations he physically abused women. Schneiderman later apologized to his accusers; a special prosecutor declined to bring criminal charges.

Underwood did not seek election.

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1:30 a.m.

Letitia James has been sworn in as New York’s attorney general, becoming the first black woman to hold statewide office.

The 60-year-old Democrat took the oath of office in Albany just before midnight on Monday. She will participate in an inauguration ceremony on Ellis Island on Tuesday.

James also becomes the state’s first black attorney general and is the first woman elected to the position.

Her predecessor, 74-year-old Barbara Underwood, was appointed in May when Eric Schneiderman resigned amid allegations he physically abused women.

Underwood did not seek election and is returning to her former position as the state’s solicitor general.

James, a longtime New York City politician, says she’ll host a series of informal meet and greets across state. She defeated Republican lawyer Keith Wofford in November.

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11 p.m.

After a seven-month turn as New York’s first female attorney general, Barbara Underwood is ready to cede the spotlight.

When Letitia James is sworn in as attorney general Tuesday, Underwood is going back to her former job as the state’s solicitor general.

During her brief time in office, the 74-year-old made a name for herself as antagonist of President Donald Trump.

She sued to put his charitable foundation out of business, accusing him of running it as a wing of his private business and political campaign.

Underwood also used the courts to challenge Trump on a multitude of policy fronts.

Those attacks earned Underwood scorn from Trump. In a tweet, he bristled that she “does little else but rant, rave & politic against me.”

Underwood says it wasn’t about politics.

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