MANHATTAN (CN) – The FBI’s raid of embattled Trump attorney Michael Cohen might have scooped up files involving women who say New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman “sexually victimized” them, an attorney said Friday in a letter to the court.
Arguing that the confidentiality of alleged Schneiderman victims outweighs the government’s subpoena of Cohen, attorney Peter Gleason asked U.S. District Judge Kimba Wood this morning to grant a protective order. Schneiderman’s scandal-forced exit rocked legal and political circles just days earlier, and none of the anonymous women whose interests Gleason purports to represent were among the four who spoke out publicly against Schneiderman on Monday.
Gleason, who is based in the New York City suburb of Mahopac, says the first woman to come to him with allegations against Schneiderman did so in 2012. At the time, an attorney with the same name as Gleason was representing the so-called “New York madam” Anna Gristina.
It is unclear whether the Gleason behind Friday’s letter is the same lawyer. He has not returned a request for comment but he did reveal more details this afternoon in an interview with The New York Times. As explained in the letter, his meeting with the first alleged Schneiderman accuser did not go anywhere because he explained that “the very entities that were established to protect her would ultimately turn on her to protect the power elite that includes Schneiderman.”
When a second woman came forward a year later with a nearly identical story of sexual impropriety involving the Democratic attorney general of New York, Gleason says he again bit back his instinct to report the matter to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office.
Instead, according to the letter, he went to Donald Trump by way of veteran New York Post columnist Stephen Dunleavy. The letter does not explicitly state the timeline of these events, but Schneiderman had brought a lawsuit against Trump in 2013 that accused the real estate mogul of defrauding customers of his seminar series Trump University.
Trump fired backs week later on Twitter: “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.”
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
Gleason told the Times Friday that Trump’s cryptic attack, with references to scandal-plagued New York politicos, was directly prompted by his conversation with Mr. Cohen.
The Post quoted Dunleavy meanwhile as confirming that Gleason told him about the women. Whereas Gleason says Dunleavy offered to discuss the Schneiderman case with Trump, however, the veteran Murdoch reporter has reportedly denied talking to Trump.
Gleason says he received a phone call from Trump’s longtime personal attorney, Cohen, shortly thereafter.
“During my communications with Mr. Cohen I shared with him certain details of Schneiderman’s vile attacks on these two women,” the letter states.
“The extent of Mr. Cohen memorializing any of our conversations is unknown,” it continues.
Attorneys for Cohen at the firm McDermott, Will & Emery did not return a request for comment, and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance declined to comment. Though he did not expand on these details, Gleason in the letter accuses Vance of ignoring prior reports of “prima facie political corruption … some of which were ultimately prosecuted elsewhere.”
The letter closes with an unexpected dig at Michael Avenatti, the attorney who represents Trump accuser Stormy Daniels.
Citing the letter Cohen wrote to Judge Wood on May 9, Gleason said it “raises concerns of what appears to be reckless behavior on the part of Mr. Avenatti, particularly in the event his client should be given leave to intervene.”
A day before Cohen wrote the court, Avenatti released a report that tallied $4.4 million in suspicious payments to Cohen since 2016, including $500,000 from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg.
Avenatti’s report about Cohen, who is the focus of a months-long criminal probe here, appeared on Schneiderman’s last day in office.
Known for his zealous pursuit of the Trump administration and political corruption generally, Schneiderman suffered a precipitous fall from power this week after The New Yorker quoted four women, two of them on the record, as saying that he physically abused them.
Schneiderman’s spokesman Stu Loeser, the longtime Democratic communications strategist, declined Friday to comment.
A former consultant for Schneiderman and Vance, Loeser’s other clients have included New York Senator Charles Schumer and ex-New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The New York Observer dubbed him the “foremost practitioner of the dark art known as opposition research.”
Some hours after receiving Gleason’s letter, Judge Wood directed the lawyer to either supplement it with a memorandum of law by May 18 or withdraw the request.