Allen Weisselberg has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Trump Organization for decades. The Wall Street Journal reported that Weisselberg was once described by a person close to the company as “the most senior person in the organization that’s not a Trump.”
NBC News’ reports that Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is apparently “Executive 1” referenced in the prosecutors’ filing in the Michael Cohen case.
The Wall Street Journal reports today, Allen Weisselberg, Longtime Trump Organization CFO, Is Granted Immunity in Cohen Probe:
Allen Weisselberg, President Trump’s longtime financial gatekeeper, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the matter.
Mr. Weisselberg, who is chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, was called to testify before a federal grand jury in the investigation earlier this year, The Wall Street Journal previously reported, citing people familiar with the investigation. He then spoke to investigators, though it isn’t clear whether he appeared before the grand jury.
The decision by prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney’s office to grant immunity to Mr. Weisselberg escalates the pressure on Mr. Trump, whom Mr. Weisselberg has served for decades as executive vice president as well as CFO for the Trump Organization. After Mr. Trump was elected, he handed control of his financial assets and business interests to his two adult sons and Mr. Weisselberg.
Mr. Weisselberg didn’t respond to a request for comment. A lawyer for Mr. Trump, who on Thursday said so-called flipping “almost ought to be illegal,” declined to comment.
Last year, Mr. Weisselberg arranged for the Trump Organization to reimburse Mr. Cohen, who had in October 2016 made a $130,000 payment to Stephanie Clifford, a former adult-film actress who claimed she had sex with Mr. Trump a decade earlier, in exchange for her silence about the alleged affair. A person familiar with Mr. Weisselberg’s thinking said he didn’t know that money was intended to pay Ms. Clifford, who goes professionally by Stormy Daniels, when he agreed in January 2017 to a $35,000 monthly retainer for Mr. Cohen.
That month, according to charging 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.”
Mr. Weisselberg isn’t named in the charging documents but was one of the executives, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Last month, a lawyer for Mr. Cohen released an audio recording of a September 2016 conversation between Messrs. Trump and Cohen in which the two men 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.
It isn’t clear whether Mr. Cohen actually spoke with Mr. Weisselberg about the plans to buy the rights to Ms. McDougal’s story. Ultimately, American Media Inc., which had purchased those rights a month earlier, declined to sell the rights to Mr. Cohen.
The question I have is whether Allen Weisselberg has limited use immunity only as to the payments Michael Cohen made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal “at the direction of” Donald Trump, or whether he has been granted immunity as a cooperating witness in the broader investigation by the Special Counsel.
If it is the latter, Weisselberg would know everything about Trump’s tax evasion, his negotiations for hotels in the former Soviet Union, money laundering of Russian oligarch money through Trump properties, receipt of foreign money in violation of the Emoluments Clause, the use of the Trump Foundation for Trump’s personal financial benefit, etc. Weisselberg knows all of Trump’s deep dark secrets. This would be a big effin’ deal if he is a cooperating witness.
Federal prosecutors also granted immunity to another longtime Trump ally: David Pecker, the chief executive of the company that publishes the National Enquirer, which in August 2016 purchased the rights to a former Playboy Playmate’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.
“According to two sources briefed on the Cohen investigation, prosecutors granted immunity to David Pecker, chairman of The National Enquirer publisher, American Media Inc., and A.M.I.’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, so they would describe Trump’s involvement in Cohen’s payments to porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal during the 2016 campaign.” “HOLY SHIT, I THOUGHT PECKER WOULD BE THE LAST ONE TO TURN”: TRUMP’S NATIONAL ENQUIRER ALLIES ARE THE LATEST TO DEFECT.
These guys at National Enquirer had a safe with damaging Trump stories:
The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents about hush-money payments and damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement told The Associated Press.
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Several people familiar with the Enquirer’s parent, American Media Inc., who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because they signed non-disclosure agreements, said the safe was a great source of power for Pecker, the company’s CEO.
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. By keeping celebrities’ embarrassing secrets, the company was able to ingratiate itself with them and ask for favors in return.
But after The Wall Street Journal initially published the first details of Playboy model Karen McDougal’s catch-and-kill deal shortly before the 2016 election, those assets became a liability. Fearful that the documents might be used against American Media, Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, removed them from the safe in the weeks before Trump’s inauguration, according to one person directly familiar with the events.
It was unclear whether the documents were destroyed or simply moved to a location known to fewer people.
Now that Pecker and Howard have immunity, they can talk about what was in the safe and, if they did not destroy the evidence, share those documents with prosecutors.
Paul Manafort, who was convicted by a jury on eight counts this week, has a little less than three weeks to decide whether or not he will become a cooperating witness before the start of his next trial in mid-September. Everyone else is flipping, and you never want to be the last man standing in a criminal investigation. Time to flip, Pauley. Tick tock.