This is one domino that Donald Trump could ill afford to see tipped
Allen Weisselberg,Â longtime Trump money man and CFO of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, his immunity came in exchange for “providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign”.
This comes a day after the New York Times reported that the Manhattan district attorneyâ€™s office is pondering whether to pursue criminal charges against the Trump Organization and two senior officials in connection with Cohenâ€™s payments to Stormy Daniels. Any state investigation would reportedly revolve around improper accounting when it comes to Trump’sÂ reimbursement of $130,000 to Cohen.
“The Trump Organization recorded the reimbursement as a legal expense but Cohen saidÂ on TuesdayÂ that he paid Ms. Clifford, better known as Stormy Daniels, to buy her silence during the 2016 campaign”, the Times writes, adding that prosecutors “have said the reimbursement payments were for sham legal invoices in connection with a nonexistent retainer agreement.”
Critically, Trump would not be able to pardon persons or entities charged in a state case.
That news came amid reports that David Pecker, AMI chairman, has also scored an immunity deal with prosecutors. He’s also a witness in the investigation into payments to women who allege affairs with the President. Here’s Vanity Fair:
And now Trumpâ€™s most powerful media ally next to Fox News has broken with him. According to two sources briefed on the Cohen investigation, prosecutors granted immunity toÂ David Pecker,Â chairman ofÂ The National EnquirerÂ publisher, American Media Inc., and A.M.I.â€™s chief content officer,Â Dylan Howard,Â so they would describe Trumpâ€™s involvement in Cohenâ€™s payments to porn starÂ Stormy DanielsÂ andÂ PlayboyÂ PlaymateÂ Karen McDougalÂ during the 2016 campaign.Â The Wall Street JournalÂ Â firstÂ reportedÂ Peckerâ€™s cooperation on Wednesday night. (Pecker and Howard did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.)Â Peckerâ€™s apparent decision to corroborate Cohenâ€™s account, and implicate Trump in a federal crime, is another vivid example of how isolated Trump is becoming as the walls close in and his former friends look for ways out.
Late last month, news broke that Weisselberg had been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury as part of the Cohen criminal probe.
Allen was mentioned twice in the secret recording of the conversation Cohen had with Trump regardingÂ payments to Karen McDougal, the Playboy model who said she had an affair with then-candidate Trump. That recording wasÂ made publicÂ last month on CNN.
Here are the references toÂ Weisselberg:Â
Iâ€™ve spoken toÂ Allen about how to set the whole thing up. I spoke to Allen about it, when it comes time for the financing.
WeisselbergÂ is considered a witness in the Cohen case and as the Wall Street Journal (whoÂ broke the story) noted at the time, â€œitâ€™s unclear if heâ€™s already testified, or what prosecutors want to ask him.â€
As our friends over atÂ WonketteÂ detailed in July, Weisselbergâ€™s 2017 deposition (part ofÂ a cache of documents postedÂ by New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood in connection with the Trump Foundation lawsuit) was pretty entertaining. Letâ€™s review (viaÂ Wonkette):
New YorkÂ requiresÂ the board of every non-profit meet once a year. Which the Trump Foundation failed to do, but donâ€™t blame Mr. Weisselberg, since he never even knew he was on the board. He just signed the tax return without looking at it, like CPAsÂ alwaysÂ do LOL.
And whoÂ asked him to grab the Foundation checkbook and get on a plane bound for Iowa in January 2016 so Trump could pose with those gigantic prop checks? Mr. Weisselberg just canâ€™t recall!
Was it Corey Lewandowski, Trumpâ€™s campaign manager? MAAAAAAYBE!
ButÂ even if it was, Corey was moonlighting as a charitable fundraiser, and asking him to bring the Foundationâ€™s checkbook to a campaign event hadÂ nothing at allÂ to do with the campaign.
And how did it come about that Jeff Mooney, who worked for Mr. Weisselberg at the Trump Organization, got dispatched to set up a fundraising website? Mr. Weisselberg has no idea! He just knew there was some independent contractor fella named maybe â€œBrad Pascalâ€ working with Mooney to set it up.
Donald Trumpâ€™s top deputy for the past forty years is saying that he didnâ€™t know who Brad Parscale was inÂ October of 2017?Â He went out of his way to say under oath to New York state investigators that he passed this project off to some independent contractor whose name he canâ€™t even remember?
Does Friday’s newsÂ haveÂ to bode ill for Trump? In a word: yes.
Because as everyone on the planet who has ever known the President suggested last month, WeisselbergÂ actuallyÂ knows where the proverbial bodies are buried, unlike Cohen who, by comparison anyway, was just a â€œlow-levelâ€ guy (Ã laÂ George Papadopoulos).
The walls are clearly closing in and Trump is increasingly isolated. All of this with Mueller still probing obstruction.
Just to be absolutely clear, Weisselberg would have detailed information on any and all transactions conducted under the Trump Organization name. God only knows what he’s said or what he’s prepared to say, but suffice to say having him as a cooperating witness is just about the worst news imaginable for this President.
“Cohen knew about the payoffs related to women and certain details,” The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman wrote on Friday, before ominously stating the obvious:
Weisselberg knows all the rest.
Get the popcorn for the tweets.