In a bizarre but somehow unsurprising twist, the assault allegations against former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman have now become connected to the corruption allegations against Donald Trump’s lawyer/fixer Michael Cohen. Bear with me, because this is a little complicated.
Late Friday morning, attorney Peter Gleason filed a motion with U.S. District Court Judge Kimba Wood, who is presiding over the Cohen court case. The motion asked Wood to keep private any documents confiscated recently from Cohen by federal officials which might contain references to conversations Gleason claims he and Cohen had about Schneiderman five years ago.
According to Gleason, two woman approached him separately in 2012 and 2013, claiming they’d been “sexually victimized” by Schneiderman. But rather than take their cases, Gleason encouraged both women not to file charges with the Manhattan district attorney’s office, “based on [his] past experiences in reporting prima facia political corruption that was ignored by the office.”
Instead, claiming he “wanted these women to realize that someone believed them,” Gleason said that he discussed their allegations with retired New York Post reporter Stephen Dunleavey, who in turn offered to take their story to—yes, you guessed it—Donald Trump. Why? Gleason didn’t say in the filing. Gleason then claimed he was contacted by Cohen, with whom he “shared [...] certain details of Schneiderman’s vile attacks on these two women.”
It gets even weirder.
In late 2013, Trump himself publicly went after Schneiderman (who was a longtime foe of his), tweeting that he was “worse than” former New York governor Eliot Spitzer, and then-recently disgraced former congressman Anthony Weiner. For evidence, Trump merely suggested people “wait and see.”
In his filing, Gleason said that he doesn’t know whether Cohen actually has any records of their conversation, but in the interest of “these two women’s confidentiality,” he wants Judge Wood to keep anything Cohen may have sealed (Wood has not yet responded to Gleason’s request).
Still, given Gleason’s stated commitment to the privacy of the two women, it’s awfully strange that he admits to essentially having helped shunt their claims to Trump, rather than, say, put his law school education to use and help them take their case to court.
Jane Mayer, who co-wrote the New Yorker story which first exposed Schneiderman’s alleged abuses, tweeted Friday that none of her sources had ties to Trump or Cohen.
I have reached out to both Gleason and the Trump Organization for comment on Friday’s court filing, and will update this story with their response.
As for why Trump may have been interested in damning allegations against one of his most high-profile legal adversaries—the answer feels pretty obvious.