Friday, August 24, 2018

Immunity granted to Trump associates - one is central to Trump's finances, corporate and personal

From the second target article below: “It is not uncommon for prosecutors to offer immunity to a person who may have wittingly or unwittingly facilitated a crime if investigators decide that person is more of a witness than a perpetrator, or if prosecutors decide they cannot get necessary testimony without offering some degree of immunity.”

Cases in point: two people important to the investigations of Trump finances have been granted immunity.

First, here’s a “significant digit” from the 538’s morning email.

$1 billion in debt The CEO of American Media, which publishes the National Enquirer and other tabloids, is a longtime friend of President Trump. But that apparently didn’t stop him from offering information in the criminal investigation into six-figure “hush-money” deals that were struck during the 2016 presidential campaign with two women who said they had had affairs with Trump. Sources told The Wall Street Journal that David Pecker was granted immunity in exchange for information about the president and his former lawyer Michael Cohen. American Media itself, meanwhile, is struggling and has been trying to restructure about $1 billion in debt. [The Wall Street Journal]

That was the lead story - until the prosecutors got to the Trump Organization CFO, Allen Weisselberg.

Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg, who allegedly helped arrange hush-money reimbursement to Cohen, receives immunity reported Carol Leonnig and colleagues Devlin Barrett and Rosalind S. Helderman at the Washington Post.

A federal investigation that led President Trump’s longtime lawyer to implicate Trump in two campaign finance crimes this week also secured the cooperation of one of the top-ranking executives at Trump’s private company.

Allen Weisselberg, chief financial officer for the Trump Organization, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in New York who were investigating Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, according to people familiar with the probe.

On Tuesday, Cohen pleaded guilty to eight felonies, including two counts related to hush money paid to women who alleged affairs with Trump. Cohen admitted he violated campaign finance law with the payments, which he said he made at Trump’s direction. The president has denied knowing about the payments when they were made.

Weisselberg, who began working with the Trump family in the 1970s, was one of the executives who helped arrange for Cohen to be reimbursed $420,000 for money paid to keep adult-film star Stormy Daniels quiet, according to a person with knowledge of his role.

The decision to grant Weisselberg immunity gave prosecutors access to one of the highest-ranking figures inside the president’s private company, an executive who is considered practically part of Trump’s family.

In 2000, he was named chief financial officer of the company. But his role is greater than that: Weisselberg has been at the center of a financial operation that covered all parts of Trump’s life, including his corporation’s finances, his personal accounts and his personal charity.

For example:

Over the decades, Weisselberg rose from serving as an accountant to the keeper of Trump’s personal books. After Trump’s election, he was appointed to help run the trust that controls the president’s assets, along with two of the president’s sons, Donald Trump Jr., a fellow trustee, and Eric Trump, chairman of the trust’s advisory board.

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