Funny story: I came across this letter this morning when reporters started tweeting excitedly that Schneiderman dirt had been shared a few years back with “Cohen,” which made me laugh because for a second I thought they meant Michael Cohen. A few minutes and several more tweets later, it seemed like they were talking about Michael Cohen, which made me think maybe I was having a stroke and my mind was jumbling up different strands of the news this week in its confusion.
Nope, turns out it’s real. A lawyer named Peter Gleason sent a letter to Judge Kimba Wood today giving her a heads up that the files seized by the feds from Michael Cohen might contain sensitive info he had passed to Cohen years ago about what Eric Schneiderman was doing to his girlfriends. One of the many ways you can tell we’re now living in a simulation that’s being scripted by bad writers is that all plot lines are implausibly converging. First there was Russiagate. Then, seemingly wholly unrelated, came Stormygate. Then, also unrelated, came Schneidergate. But it turns out Cohen used the same account to pay Stormy *and* to receive money from Viktor Vekselberg’s American company, triggering Bob Mueller’s scrutiny and intertwining the Russiagate and Stormygate threads. And now here’s news that the files the FBI took from Cohen in investigating Stormygate may, unbeknownst to everyone, also contain key details of Schneidergate. It’s completely ridiculous, something that would never happen in reality but might definitely happen in “The Apprentice: Oval Office, Season 2.”
Next week we’re going to find out that the Schneiderman information that Gleason passed to Cohen also contained a map to a secret treasure.
Here’s the first key bit from Gleason’s letter. Note the timeline:
Two women came to Gleason claiming “inappropriate” behavior by Schneiderman, one in 2012 and the other in 2013. The New Yorker story by Ronan Farrow and Jane Mayer cited four women who said they’d been abused by Schneiderman: Michelle Barish, who dated him from summer 2013 to New Year’s Day in 2015; Tanya Selvaratnam, who was with him from summer 2016 to fall 2017; a third woman who says Schneiderman slapped her hard enough to leave a handprint during a brief encounter during summer 2016; and a fourth woman whose time with him is unspecified. It’s possible that Barish is the woman who went to Gleason in 2013, but who went to him in 2012? Was it the fourth woman in the New Yorker piece or is there a fifth accuser against Schneiderman as yet unknown?
As to the bit about Trump:
There’s reason to believe Gleason is telling the truth. Note the timestamp on this tweet:
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
He knew! That wasn’t just an empty smear of Schneiderman designed to needle him. Trump actually knew. Five years ago!
A fascinating possibility arises: Did Trump (or Cohen) tip off Ronan Farrow to the Schneiderman scandal? Schneiderman’s been tormenting Trump for years now, investigating his charity and cooperating with Bob Mueller’s office just in case POTUS starts throwing around Russiagate pardons and the prosecutorial battlefield shifts to the states. What if Trump decided it was time to put the dirt he had on Schneiderman to good use, leveraging the #MeToo moment to take out a political foe?
Didn’t happen, says Farrow:
Nope. None of our leads came via Trump people, and we had no knowledge of Gleason. No surprise there were other investigations—legit ones and political smears—as allegations were so widespread. But ours didn’t flow from any of that. Women in the story were all Dems, incidentally. pic.twitter.com/WxDMDhiKzm
— Ronan Farrow (@RonanFarrow) May 11, 2018
If that’s true, and I take Farrow at his word, then Trump had some weapons-grade scandal plutonium tucked away on Schneiderman — but to all appearances never used it. Why not? He wouldn’t have had to reveal it himself; he has the National Enquirer standing by to run hit pieces, whether well-grounded or otherwise, on his political enemies. Was he saving the dirt just in case the Russiagate matter ended up in state court in New York? Was he worried that Schneiderman had dirt on *him* that would be published if he outed Schneiderman, a sort of mutually assured destruction by scandal? It’s strange to me that Trump kept this confidence given Schneiderman’s antagonism to him over the years. Did Cohen and/or Trump at least tell Schneiderman that they knew about his girlfriend-choking habit?
Or maybe Trump did task the Enquirer or some other tabloid with digging up this story and publishing it and the paper just couldn’t find a woman willing to go on the record at the time. Schneiderman’s power as state AG would have been scary not just to his victims but to his exposers. A tabloid sniffing around this story might have insisted on more evidence than usual before running with it. Either way, it occurs to me that if Trump and Cohen had this dirt in their back pocket then everyone who said “Trump’s gonna love this!” when the Schneiderman scandal broke this week might be wrong. If POTUS was keeping that secret with an eye to using it as leverage over Schneiderman at an opportune time, like, say, if he tried to indict Trump’s buddies for Russiagate offenses, then Trump lost a lot from the New Yorker story. His blackmail weapon’s been stolen out from under him. He’s been disarmed.
Thousand-dollar exit question via Ken White: Did Gleason tell the women that he was about to share their secret with trustworthy fellows like Donald Trump and Michael Cohen? You’re supposed to get your client’s consent before you go passing their information to third parties.
Million-dollar exit question via me: How the hell did Gleason end up being referred to Trump and Cohen in the first place? Gleason’s letter reads like MAGA Mad Libs. “I discussed the matter with a retired journalist by the name of Stephen Dunleavy who suggested and offered to discuss the matter with Donald Trump.” W-w-w-what? Why did Dunleavy think to bring Trump into this instead of, say, a private investigator who might work to build evidence against Schneiderman? The only thing I can figure is that, fearing the cops and D.A. would look the other way at the allegations against Schneiderman, maybe Gleason was looking for a pipeline to the tabloids to get the women’s stories out that way. Trump could certainly provide him with that. But even then, Dunleavy must have known lots of ways to put people in touch with newspapers. The Trump cameo here is completely bizarre.
Mr. Gleason said in an interview that Mr. Cohen had told him that if Mr. Trump were to run for and be elected governor of New York, he would help bring to light the women’s accusations about Mr. Schneiderman. There had been deep animus between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schneiderman ever since Mr. Schneiderman filed a $40 million civil fraud lawsuit against Trump University in August 2013…
Mr. Gleason also said in the interview, without offering details or corroborating evidence, that he had told elected officials of his concerns about Mr. Schneiderman’s abusive behavior nearly five years ago, but was rebuffed.
I … guess that makes sense. Trump was saving the Schneiderman dirt to blow up Andrew Cuomo or even Schneiderman himself if he ended up being the Democratic gubernatorial nominee opposite Trump.
But why didn’t POTUS reveal the dirt once he decided against running for governor? Schneiderman’s been dogging him on various legal matters for years yet Trump kept quiet. Why?