Trump Organization CFO granted immunity in Cohen probe – report

Trump Organization CFO granted immunity in Cohen probe – report

Allen Weisselberg, president’s longtime financial gatekeeper, provided testimony in federal investigation into hush-money payments by legal fixer Michael Cohen

Allen Weisselberg, a top Trump Organization official and the company's longtime chief financial officer (screen capture: YouTube)
Allen Weisselberg, a top Trump Organization official and the company's longtime chief financial officer (screen capture: YouTube)

Allen Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity from US prosecutors in exchange for his testimony in the federal investigation into President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.

Weisselberg was subpoenaed by federal prosecutors to testify before a federal grand jury earlier this year regarding the Cohen investigation, the report noted.

Weisselberg has served as CFO and executive vice president of the Trump Organization for decades, and was appointed by Trump to run his company along with his sons after he was elected president.

The report came days after Cohen and Trump’s onetime campaign chairman Paul Manafort were found guilty of various financial crimes in a one-two punch against the US president.

Michael Cohen, US President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, exits the federal courthouse in New York City on August 21, 2018. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP)

Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in the form of hush payments he made during the 2016 presidential elections to two women who alleged they had affairs with Trump. He said he had paid them at Trump’s request.

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.

Although Cohen did not name the women, they were believed to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

Because the hush payments were intended to influence the outcome of the elections, they violated US laws governing campaign contributions, making Trump an — as yet — unindicted co-conspirator.

In another hammer blow Thursday, The Wall Street Journal and other US media said David Pecker, CEO of tabloid publisher American Media, had been given immunity by prosecutors investigating the payments, opening a new area of vulnerability for Trump.

Pecker’s company publishes the National Enquirer.

After Trump was implicated as a co-conspirator in two campaign finance violations, both of them federal felonies, he and his closest advisers offered dire  warnings about the consequences of removing him from office.

Donald Trump, right, and Rudy Giuliani pose for photographs as Giuliani arrives at the Trump National Golf Club Bedminster clubhouse on Sunday, November 20, 2016, in Bedminster, N.J.. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

“I will tell you what, if I ever got impeached, I think the market would crash, I think everybody would be very poor,” the president warned in an interview aired Thursday on talk show “Fox and Friends.”

“I don’t know how you can impeach somebody who has done a great job.”

The president’s personal lawyer-cum-spokesman Rudy Giuliani echoed that stark warning, hinting at political unrest.

“You would only impeach him for political reasons and the American people would revolt against that,” he told Sky News while on a golf course in Scotland.

Trump’s story about Cohen’s payments has changed multiple times over the past year, and during Thursday’s interview on Fox, he tried to defuse the allegations in several ways.

He claimed his former lawyer “made the deals,” and insisted that Cohen’s actions were “not a crime,” while going on to claim that “campaign violations are considered not a big deal, frankly.”

In this photo from June 15, 2018 Paul Manafort arrives for a hearing at US District Court on June 15, 2018 in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo/Mandel Ngan)

Trump then said the hush payments were financed with his own money — to which Cohen had access — and that while he had no knowledge of them at the time, he had since been fully transparent.

In entering a guilty plea, Cohen said under oath that the payments were made “in coordination with, and at the direction of, a candidate for federal office” — a clear reference to Trump.

Cohen also has pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud.

Asked if he was considering a pardon for Manafort, Trump told Fox only that he has “great respect for what he has done, in terms of what he has gone through.”

On Thursday, Trump ignored questions from the press on the issue.

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