US President Donald Trump’s longtime bookkeeper for his personal and business affairs has reportedly been granted immunity in the federal probe into Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen.
Longtime Trump Organisation finance chief Allen Weisselberg received immunity to talk to federal prosecutors in the investigation into hush money that Cohen paid to two women who claimed affairs with Trump, the Wall Street Journal and NBC News reported.
Cohen pleaded guilty to tax and campaign finance violations on Tuesday.
Though not named in the Cohen case, Weisselberg is believed to be one of two Trump executives mentioned in the suit who reimbursed Cohen and covered up the payments by saying they were legal expenses.
Weisselberg has been a Trump confidant who started working for his family in the early 1970s.
The federal immunity for Weisselberg comes on the heels of several media reports that chief executive of National Enquirer publisher American Media David Pecker had also been granted immunity, as well as the company’s chief content officer Dylan Howard.
The Associated Press reports that the National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents about hush money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its relationship with Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election.
Several people familiar with American Media who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity said the safe was a great source of power for Pecker.
The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents pertaining to other celebrities’ “catch-and-kill” deals, in which exclusive rights to people’s stories were bought with no intention of publishing to keep them out of the news.
Court papers in the Cohen case say Pecker “offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump’s) relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.”
While Trump denies affairs with porn actress Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal, his account of his knowledge of the payments has shifted.
In April, Trump denied he knew anything about the Daniels payment. He told Fox News in an interview broadcast on Thursday that he knew about payments “later on.”