Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into President Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen, according to the Wall Street Journal. The immunity grant to Weisselberg adds to the legal woes of the President.
Federal prosecutors accused Weisselberg of instructing an unidentified Trump Organization employee to reimburse Cohen for hush-money payments to porn start Stephanie Clifford (aka Stormy Daniels), one of two women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump.
According to documents filed Tuesday, Mr. Cohen gave executives at the Trump Organization a copy of the bank statement from his bank account for Essential Consultants LLC, the company he used to pay Ms. Clifford the previous fall. The statement reflected Mr. Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Ms. Clifford, as well as an additional $50,000 that Mr. Cohen added in handwriting was for “tech services.”
Executives at the Trump Organization “ ‘grossed up’ for tax purposes” Mr. Cohen’s requested reimbursement, doubling it to $360,000, and added a $60,000 bonus, the document said. The next month, one executive at the company asked another executive to pay Mr. Cohen’s monthly retainer “from the trust” and to “post to legal expenses.”
Last month, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen released an audio recording of a September 2016 conversation between Trump and Cohen in which they discussed buying the rights to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal’s story. In the recording, which federal investigators reviewed, Mr. Cohen said he would set up a company to make the payment, adding, “I’ve spoken with Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” before Mr. Trump interrupts him.
Federal prosecutors also granted immunity to David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, Inc., that publishes the National Enquirer. In August 2016, they purchased the rights to Karen McDougal’s story of an affair with Mr. Trump. In exchange for immunity, Mr. Pecker met with prosecutors and shared details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged, including Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals, according to people familiar with the matter.
Trump and his attorneys have denied any wrongdoing, and Trump has pushed back angrily against Cohen’s plea bargain. In a Fox News interview this week, the President said it should be “illegal” for people facing criminal charges to make deals with the government.
“It’s called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal,” Trump said of Cohen’s move. “It’s not a fair thing.”