A new court filing in Michael Cohen’s lawsuit against the US government has revealed that both Cohen and Trump knew about abuse allegations against now-former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman — apparently for some time before they became public.
The filing, from attorney Peter Gleason, reveals that in 2012 and 2013, Gleason was contacted by two women who gave very similar stories about how they were “sexually victimized” by Schneiderman.
Gleason writes that he then decided to tell a retired journalist, and the journalist then, strangely, “suggested and offered to discuss the matter with Donald Trump.” The journalist did so, and afterward, Cohen contacted Gleason and got more details on what the women were alleging.
Gleason told the New York Times that these conversations happened in 2013. That is the same year Schneiderman filed a civil lawsuit against Trump University for fraud. Trump sent a barrage of tweets criticizing Schneiderman after that, including this innuendo-laden one, which Gleason now says was prompted by his information:
Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone - next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman. Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 11, 2013
It is not known what else, if anything, Trump and Cohen did with the information they had about Schneiderman. But it seems unlikely that they forgot about it. The Trump University case continued through the 2016 presidential campaign, and Schneiderman agreed to settle it shortly after Trump won the election. There was also frequent speculation that Schneiderman could, at some point, play a major role in investigations into Trump, charging state crimes that Trump wouldn’t be able to pardon. Nothing like that has yet materialized, though.
No allegations of abusive behavior by Schneiderman spilled into public view until earlier this week, when the New Yorker’s Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow wrote a detailed, damning report that forced his resignation. Mayer says the sources for her story have no connection to Trump or Cohen:
Just to be clear: not one source for our story on Schneiderman has any ties to Trump or Michael Cohen. Our sources all are deeply opposed to Trump and deeply disappointed that Schneiderman let them and their Cause down.— Jane Mayer (@JaneMayerNYer) May 11, 2018
So now, with Schneiderman gone from office, comes Gleason’s odd filing in Cohen’s suit. Gleason writes that he thinks it’s possible that Cohen documented what he told him about the women’s allegations against Schneiderman — and that the FBI could have gotten ahold of some of those documents in their raids of Cohen’s home and office. Gleason is requesting that any such documents be sealed by the court.
There are a whole lot of questions about what actually happened here
Gleason’s bizarre filing raises many more questions than it answers. First of all, it is unclear why in the world he would have conveyed these allegations to Donald Trump.
Gleason says he advised the second accuser against reporting the matter to authorities because he feared they wouldn’t pursue it. He claims that he “wanted these women to realize that somebody believed them,” though, so he told retired New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy. He says Dunleavy then suggested telling Trump about it.
But why Trump? One possible reason is that since Trump was enmeshed a high-profile feud and legal battle with Schneiderman over Trump University, they thought Trump would find it useful to have some “dirt” on Schneiderman.
And now, Gleason has confirmed as much, in an interview with Chris Megerian of the Los Angeles Times. “I realized, as a lawyer, he [Cohen] may want to use that information against his adversary,” Gleason said.
That, of course, leads to the question of what Trump and Cohen may have done with that information. To be clear — this is scandalous material about one of the highest-profile law enforcement officials in the country. In the wrong hands, it could have been used for blackmail.
Maybe Trump and Cohen did nothing with the information — after all, Schneiderman continued to be a vocal Trump critic before the election and afterward. But Gleason, at least, sounds worried the government may have taken something from Cohen’s files that he very much does not want to be made public.