What would be the reason for prosecutors granting people immunity?
Asking for a friend.
It’s like the news for President Trump keeps getting worse and worse. It’s certainly not getting better.
This may actually prove to be the most consequential week of Trump’s presidency. With his former campaign chairman Paul Manafort being found guilty of eight separate felonies, and his longtime attorney and “fixer,” Michael Cohen pleading guilty to a host of charges, including campaign finance law violations – which he promptly laid at Donald Trump’s doorstep – you’d think it couldn’t get much worse.
Now, it appears Trump has lost the support of his friend and backer, David Pecker.
Pecker is the CEO of American Media, the company that publishes the tabloid trash found in grocery store aisles across the nation, The National Enquirer.
Throughout the 2015-2016 primary and election season, the magazine poured on the support for Trump’s candidacy, using all the slime-coated tricks such publications are known for, in an effort to sink his opponents, and elevate the candidacy of Trump.
Do we all remember the stories about Senator Ted Cruz’s dad, Rafael Cruz, being connected to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, or the alleged multiple affairs of Cruz?
These things were splashed all over the front cover, while Trump was heralded an all-American hero.
Now, however, that old saying about no honor among thieves is coming around. Pecker, so willing to work and force Trump on the American people before, is working with prosecutors and has been granted immunity in the case surrounding Michael Cohen.
Pecker met with the prosecution to discuss Cohen’s involvement in Trump’s hush-money deals with women leading up to the 2016 presidential election, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
Pecker has emerged as a central figure in the scandal involving the payments. CNN last month released audio of Trump and Cohen discussing payment to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, in which Cohen apparently references Pecker, telling Trump that he needs “to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info regarding our friend David.”
It involves a practice with scummy publications called “catch and kill.” That’s where a story of potential public interest is paid for and secured, then the publication decides to make it “go away,” by sitting on it.
That was the kind of deal that American Media apparently made with McDougal. The National Enquirer bought the rights to her story of an affair with Trump for $150,000 – a story the Wall Street Journal first broke in November 2016 – and they never published it.
Seriously. Maybe paying $150,000 for such a story is peanuts for a big corporation to pay, but to pay for it and not use it?
It’s that deal that leads prosecutors to believe that David Pecker’s testimony could be useful to their case.
According to the Journal, Pecker’s information seems to have informed the prosecutors’ charging documents, which were revealed Tuesday.
The payment was completed a few weeks before the 2016 presidential election and Cohen said that he did so at the behest of “a candidate for federal office.”
Along with the $130,000 payment to Daniels, Cohen admitted to completing an $150,000 illegal contribution, the same amount McDougal was reportedly paid by publishers at the Enquirer.
President Trump, after initially denying knowledge of the payments, admitted to Fox News’ Ainsley Earhardt that the payments came from him. He insisted, however, that since campaign funds were not used, that no crime was committed.
That may not be so. The payments, if it can be proven they were made in order to keep the women from revealing their stories and damaging Trump’s election chances, could be considered “of value,” and would violate campaign finance law – the thing Cohen pleaded guilty to.
While we can’t know for certain how damaging Pecker’s cooperation may be, it’s interesting to note that whatever he has to say, prosecutors wanted it enough to grant him immunity from prosecution for it.