ALBANY — A Putnam County lawyer said Friday that Donald Trump and his lawyer Michael Cohen were told more than five years ago that two women had accused then-Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman of sexual abuse, but that none of them reported the allegations to law enforcement.
The lawyer, Peter J. Gleason, asserted in a letter that he had been contacted by two women — one in 2012 and one in 2013 — who said they had been “sexually victimized” by Schneiderman. Rather than bringing their cases to the district attorney, Gleason said, he told retired New York Post columnist Steve Dunleavy, who in turn contacted Trump. By Gleason’s account, this led to a phone call from Cohen, with whom he shared details of the women’s stories.
Gleason laid out this story, which no one has corroborated, in a letter to Judge Kimba M. Wood, who is overseeing the investigation of Cohen in federal court in Manhattan. Gleason asked the judge to “issue a protective order and seal any and all correspondence that Mr. Cohen may have memorialized regarding our communications which pertain to Mr. Scheinderman’s [sic] assault on these two women.”
Wood responded with an order directing Gleason “to file a memorandum of law in support of” his request by May 18, “or to withdraw the request.”
Reactions to Gleason’s letter — in which he also accused Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, of “reckless behavior” — were swift. Reporters for CNBC reached Dunleavy, who told them that he had never spoken to Trump or Cohen about the matter.
Trump’s spokeswoman at the White House, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said she didn’t know about Gleason’s claims. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow did not respond to requests for comment, nor did Schneiderman’s private attorney, Isabelle Kirshner. Cohen didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment.
Avenatti put out a statement saying, “There is never anything reckless about providing the American people with facts, evidence, and the truth.”
Gleason, of Mahopac, who says on his LinkedIn page that he is a former New York City police officer and firefighter, gained prominence in 2012 when he represented Anna Gristina, who was charged with running a Manhattan brothel, and offered his TriBeCa loft as collateral for her $2 million bail.
In the letter Gleason submitted Friday to Wood, he said his office had been “contacted some years ago by two unrelated women who at two separate times (approximately 1 year apart) claimed that Mr. Scheiderman [sic] was sexually inappropriate with them.”
The letter went on to say that “the logical recommendation would have been to report this matter to the Manhattan district attorney,” but Gleason decided against that, “based on my past experience in reporting prima facie political corruption that was ignored by the office, some of which were ultimately prosecuted elsewhere.”
“I knew it would not be handled appropriately,” Gleason told Newsday by telephone. “I can guarantee they would have done nothing.”
In an interview, Gleason confirmed the letter, but would not offer further details about the timeline or the stories the women told him.
Jane Mayer, an author of the article in The New Yorker that led to Schneiderman’s resignation on Monday, said that Gleason’s assertions didn’t match the accounts of the women she and Ronan Farrow had interviewed.
“Just to be clear: not one source for our story on Schneiderman has any ties to Trump or Michael Cohen,” Mayer tweeted on Friday. “Our sources all are deeply opposed to Trump and deeply disappointed that Schneiderman let them and their Cause down.”
As attorney general, Schneiderman frequently filed lawsuits aimed at Trump’s policy actions and private businesses. In April, a judge approved a final settlement of $25 million in a case Schneiderman brought against Trump University, asserting that it had committed consumer fraud.
Jeanne Wilcke, president of the Downtown Independent Democrats club of lower Manhattan, said that Gleason, whom she considers a friend and political colleague, had talked to her about Schneiderman.
“He very specifically warned me to stay away from him and not be in a room with him alone,” Wilcke said in an interview. “Over the years, once in a while when something would come up and Schneiderman’s name would come up, Peter Gleason would remind me, ‘Remember what I told you.’”