A lawyer who says he once represented two women who claimed that the former New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, had “sexually victimized” them several years ago, asserted on Friday that he discussed their claims in 2013 with an unlikely person: Michael D. Cohen, Donald J. Trump’s longtime lawyer and fixer.
The lawyer for the women, Peter J. Gleason, offered his surprising account in a letter submitted to Kimba M. Wood, the Manhattan federal judge who is overseeing an ongoing investigation into Mr. Cohen. In the letter, Mr. Gleason asked Judge Wood for an order to protect any records that Mr. Cohen might have concerning their discussion of the women — a step he felt was needed after federal agents seized boxes of documents in a series of raids on Mr. Cohen’s office, apartment and hotel room last month.
“The extent of Mr. Cohen’s memorializing any of our communications is unknown,” Mr. Gleason wrote. “However, these two women’s confidentiality, as victims of a sexual assault, should be superior to that of any unrelated subpoena.”
In an interview shortly after his letter was filed, Mr. Gleason said that during their conversation five years ago, Mr. Cohen told him that if Mr. Trump, who was thinking of running for New York governor at the time, were to be elected, he would help bring to light the women’s accusations against Mr. Schneiderman. A deep animus had existed between the two men, prompted by a $40 million civil fraud lawsuit that Mr. Schneiderman filed against Mr. Trump’s for-profit educational venture, Trump University, in August 2013.
The filing of Mr. Gleason’s letter marked an extraordinary convergence of two of the moment’s most explosive news stories: the abrupt demise of Mr. Schneiderman, who quit his job on Monday amid allegations that he had physically assaulted four former girlfriends, and the case of Mr. Cohen, who is under investigation for potentially having broken the law by trying to suppress negative coverage of Mr. Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election.
The letter also shed new light on the simmering feud between Mr. Trump and Mr. Schneiderman, one that was inflamed anew this week as several of Mr. Trump’s supporters took to social media to revel in Mr. Schneiderman’s downfall.
As for Mr. Gleason, he is a well-known figure in New York’s legal and political circles. A former firefighter, he mounted a failed campaign for City Council in 2003 and last year briefly sought to challenge the Manhattan district attorney, Cyrus R. Vance Jr., as a write-in candidate. In his legal practice, he has shown a penchant for involving himself in salacious, tabloid-ready cases. In 2012, for instance, he represented Anna Gristina, the so-called Soccer Mom Madam, who was accused of running a brothel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. (At a hearing in the case, Mr. Gleason offered to put up his own TriBeCa loft to help pay Ms. Gristina’s bond and told the judge that she and her family could move in with him while she awaited trial.)
In his interview on Friday, Mr. Gleason — without offering details or corroborating evidence — also said that he had told several elected officials of his concerns about Mr. Schneiderman’s abusive behavior nearly five years ago, but was rebuffed.
“The highest levels of our state and city government were well aware of Eric Schneiderman,” he said.
Mr. Gleason refused to identify the officials, and noted that the women he represented were not among the four who came forward this week in an article in The New Yorker that prompted Mr. Schneiderman’s resignation.
A spokesman for the law firm of Clayman & Rosenberg, which is representing Mr. Schneiderman, declined to comment. Lawyers for Mr. Cohen did not return a call seeking comment.
In his letter, Mr. Gleason said that after his attempts to assist the women fell on deaf ears, he decided to take their accusations against Mr. Schneiderman to Steve Dunleavy, a former columnist for The New York Post. According to the letter, Mr. Dunleavy “offered to discuss the matter with Donald Trump.”
Within a day of speaking with Mr. Dunleavy, Mr. Gleason said, he received a phone call from Mr. Cohen.
“In the conversation,” Mr. Gleason recalled, “I said, ‘Listen, I’m looking for somebody to help.’ At the time, Trump was considering running for governor. And Cohen said, ‘If Trump runs and wins, you’ll have an ally for bringing these women forward.’”
Mr. Gleason added, “I’m no fan of Michael Cohen, but he was sympathetic.”
At that point, Mr. Trump and Mr. Schneiderman were warring over Trump University in a legal battle bitter enough that Mr. Trump eventually filed a complaint against Mr. Schneiderman with New York State’s ethics watchdog agency. In the wake of the lawsuit, Mr. Trump also posted a cryptic attack on Mr. Schneiderman on Twitter, comparing him unfavorably with two other Democratic politicians felled by scandal: former Representative Anthony D. Weiner and former Gov. Eliot Spitzer.
“Weiner is gone, Spitzer is gone — next will be lightweight A.G. Eric Schneiderman,” Mr. Trump wrote. “Is he a crook? Wait and see, worse than Spitzer or Weiner.”
Mr. Gleason said that Mr. Trump’s Twitter attack was prompted by his conversation with Mr. Cohen.
“That tweet that Trump sent out about Schneiderman,” Mr. Gleason said, “my conversation with Cohen happened shortly before that.”
On Friday afternoon, Judge Wood ordered Mr. Gleason to file his request for a protective order as a formal legal motion, not a letter. If he did not do so by May 18, she said, he would have to withdraw the request.
Mr. Gleason’s account was supported in part by Jeanne Wilcke, the treasurer of the Downtown Independent Democrats, a New York City political club that Mr. Gleason belongs to. In an interview on Friday, Ms. Wilcke said that in 2013, Mr. Gleason had warned her about Mr. Schneiderman without revealing any specific details.
“He told me I should be very careful about Schneiderman,” Ms. Wilcke said. “Not to be in a room alone with him — for women, it was bad.”
Ms. Wilcke, a former president of the organization, noted that the club had supported Mr. Schneiderman for many years. But, she added, “every once in a while, Pete would again give me a warning. It registered with me.”