Federal prosecutors have granted immunity to American Media Inc. CEO and longtime friend of President Trump, David Pecker, reports the Wall Street Journal.
Pecker reportedly gave prosecutors details about the president’s knowledge of payments former Trump attorney Michael Cohen made to women alleging affairs with Trump – including former Playboy model Karen MacDougal – was paid $150,000 by the National Enquirer, which is owned by American Media, for her story about an alleged affair with Trump. The Enquirer sat on the story in a practice known as “catch and kill.”
In exchange for immunity, Mr. Pecker, CEO of American Media, Inc., has met with prosecutors and shared details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged in an effort to silence two women who alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump, including Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals, some of the people said. Prosecutors have indicated that Mr. Pecker won’t be criminally charged for his participation in the deals, the people said. –WSJ
Pecker’s input “appears to have informed the charging documents made public on Tuesday as part of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations tied to the payments.”
During his guilty-plea hearing, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, said that at Mr. Trump’s direction, he broke federal laws on campaign contributions by coordinating payments to the two women for the purpose of suppressing negative information about Mr. Trump and influencing the 2016 election.
American Media executives were involved in both hush-money deals that formed the basis of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign-finance violations, prosecutors said. One was a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford—a former porn actress who goes professionally by Stormy Daniels—to keep her from publicly discussing an alleged affair with Mr. Trump.
The second was a $150,000 payment made to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for her exclusive story of an alleged extramarital affair with Mr. Trump, a story that was purchased by American Media in August 2016 at Mr. Cohen’s urging, and then never published. –WSJ
In a recorded conversation released in July, Trump and Cohen can be heard discussing purchasing the rights to McDougal’s claim. Cohen can be heard telling Trump that he needs “to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” likely referring to American Media Inc. head David Pecker.
“I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David,” Cohen said in the recording, likely a reference to American Media head David Pecker.
Trump interrupts Cohen asking, “What financing?” according to the recording. When Cohen tells Trump, “We’ll have to pay.” Trump is heard saying “pay with cash” but the audio is muddled and it’s unclear whether he suggests paying with cash or not paying. Cohen says, “no, no, no” but it is not clear what is said next.
Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, contested Davis’s interpretation and released the Trump team’s version of the transcript, which contradicts Davis. While Davis said Trump was suggesting the two pay cash, Giuliani’s version of the transcript says Trump is saying, “Don’t pay with cash…check.”
The search warrant carried out by the public corruption unit of the Manhattan federal attorney’s office seeks information about Karen McDougal, an ex-Playboy model who claims she carried on a nearly yearlong affair with Mr. Trump shortly after the birth of his son in 2006. Ms. McDougal was paid $150,000 by American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company, whose chief executive is a friend of Mr. Trump’s. –NYT
Let he who has never been betrayed by his own pecker throw the first stone
— David Burge (@iowahawkblog) August 23, 2018
— Spencer Jakab (@Spencerjakab) August 23, 2018
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