Wednesday, 20 February, 2019

Prosecutors give 'immunity deal' to Trump's chief financial officer

Donald Trump Donald Trump. Pool Getty Images
Priscilla Morrison | 26 August, 2018, 04:54

After that, it was reported in multiple outlets that David Pecker, Trump's longtime ally at the top of American Media Inc., and the former CFO of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, have both been given immunity deals - suggesting they may turn on the president as well.

One of them said the immunity agreement was restricted to Weisselberg's grand jury testimony last month in the Cohen case, specifically the allegations that Cohen paid hush money to two women who claimed affairs with Trump.

Cohen said in a court statement that he made those payments "in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office", referring to then-candidate Trump, and added that he participated in the transactions with the principal goal of influencing an election.

Weisselberg authorized the $420,000 payment made by Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, which was at the heart of the charges against Trump's ex-lawyer.

Such payments could be considered illegal campaign contributions under federal election law.

What's next for president Donald Trump?

In addition to his title as chief financial officer, Weisselberg holds executive positions at many Trump entities, including director of the Donald J. Trump Foundation, which is being sued by the NY state attorney general for allegedly tapping donations to settle legal disputes among other illegal uses.

Cohen is just the latest addition to the long line of embattled former Trump aides or advisers caught up in special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation who have turned to online crowdfunding to help pay for snowballing legal fees, including former Trump campaign aides Roger Stone, Michael Caputo and George Papadopoulos.

The Trump Organization has no comment.

Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer, pleaded guilty this week to eight counts of criminal activity and signaled his willingness to testify against the president. He has denied the affair.

More news: Scott Morrison calls Donald Trump on first full day as Australia PM

Those were guiding principles for Cohen when he served as more than just a lawyer for Trump during the developer's rise from celebrity to president-elect.

On the recording, Cohen is heard saying, "I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up".

Everett, however, said he doesn't doubt the sincerity of Cohen's sworn statements before the court on Tuesday. Cohen refers to Weisselberg on the audio excerpt released publicly last month.

Revelations in the Cohen charging documents - that the Trump Organization made sham payments to Cohen to reimburse him for buying the silence of porn actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels - suggest US prosecutors are laying the legal groundwork for further scrutiny.

Giuliani has said the payments were personal matters not subject to campaign finance law.

The Trump Organization is the umbrella group for dozens of Trump businesses, including real estate development, management of hotels and golf courses, and production of the reality TV shows "The Apprentice" and "Celebrity Apprentice".

The Cohen investigation was referred to federal prosecutors in NY by USA special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible co-ordination between Trump's Republican campaign and Russian officials.

Mr Trump has repeatedly denied collusion with Russian Federation, and Russia denies involvement in the 2016 election.

The issue of whether a sitting president can be indicted has not been tested, though Trump allies point to two previously written legal opinions that weigh in against the prospect.

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