By Helen Stevenson
Michael Cohen, former lawyer and longtime advisor of President Donald Trump, alleged the president instructed him to write letters to his former high school, colleges and The College Board in his testimony before the House Oversight committee today. The documents Cohen submitted to Congress include a 2015 letter addressed to Rev. Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president of the university, indicating legal action would be taken should the president’s academic records be released.
According to Bob Howe, director of communications for the university, Fordham first received a call from someone on the Trump campaign as he was preparing his run for president.
“We told the caller that Fordham is bound by federal law, and that we could not/would not reveal/share any records (as we would not reveal any student records) with anyone except Mr. Trump himself, or any recipient he designated, in writing,” Howe said.
President Trump attended Fordham for his first two years of college before transferring to the University of Pennsylvania to finish his degree.
After the call, Howe said McShane received a letter from Cohen reaffirming their requests and threatening to take legal action if they were not followed.
“Fordham received a follow-up letter from one of Mr. Trump’s attorneys summarizing the call and reminding us that they would take action against the University if we did, in fact, release Mr. Trump’s records,” he said.
In the letter, Cohen cited the Family Education and Privacy Act which prevents the release or disclosure of academic records without the student’s written authorization.
Cohen told the university that Trump did not consent to the release or disclosure of his academic records and any violation of such law could result in substantial fines, penalties and the potential loss of other government aid and other funding. He said the criminality would “lead to jail time.”
“[If] in the event any of his records are released or otherwise disclosed without his prior written consent, we will hold your institution liable to the fullest extent of the law including damages and criminality,” Cohen wrote.
Howe said the university’s stance remains the same and it will not disclose any private records.
“We obey federal law and don’t release student records to anyone but the student/graduate or anyone that the student designates, in writing,” he said.