National Enquirer boss and longtime Trump friend David Pecker gets federal immunity in Michael Cohen case (CNBC link): The chairman of the company that publishes the National Enquirer was granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of an investigation into President Donald Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, NBC News reported Thursday. The immunity deal was earlier reported by The Wall Street Journal and Vanity Fair.
Details of the agreement were not immediately known. But the Journal reported earlier Thursday that American Media Inc. Chairman David Pecker had given prosecutors details about the president's knowledge of payments Cohen made to women alleging affairs with Trump.
The immunity deal could hold significant consequences for Trump, as Pecker could have as much damaging information about the president as anyone in Trump's orbit. He and Pecker have been friends since the 1990s, and have appeared to remain so after Trump became president — the media mogul even visited the White House last year, according to The New York Times.
Trump has been a public advocate for Pecker, too. In 2013, he tweeted several times urging Time Magazine to hire Pecker as its top executive. "Nobody could bring [the magazine] back like David!" Trump wrote in one of the tweets.
Pecker was subpoenaed by federal investigators in April, as were his company and the Trump Organization. The Journal said the subpoenas were served at the same time the FBI raided Cohen's office and residences, seizing electronics, recordings and thousands of documents.
Though they only named Cohen explicitly, the Justice Department said Tuesday that the "chairman" of "a media company that owns, among other things, a popular tabloid magazine" put Cohen in touch with one of the women, who in October 2016 was paid $130,000 in exchange for her silence about the alleged affair.
That woman, porn star Stormy Daniels, is suing Trump and Cohen in California to void the hush-money agreement and speak freely about the alleged tryst.
The safe also contained documents from other “catch-and-kill” stories about celebrities and was revealed on Thursday as the tabloid’s parent company, American Media Inc., has received immunity by federal prosecutors, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The safe was removed from its location when a story about Trump’s hush money payment to Playboy playmate Karen McDougal was published in the Wall Street Journal in 2016, the AP said.
It was unclear where the safe — which could contain embarrassing information about Trump and others — was taken.
Sources exposed the information to the AP days after Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations.
One of the pleas alleged that Cohen, Trump, and the tabloid were involved in buying the silence of McDougal and porn actress Stormy Daniels, who alleged affairs with Trump.
The Wall Street Journal first reported Pecker’s cooperation on Wednesday night. (Pecker and Howard did not respond to multiple requests for comment. A spokesperson for the Southern District of New York declined to comment.)
Pecker’s apparent decision to corroborate Cohen’s account, and implicate Trump in a federal crime, is another vivid example of how isolated Trump is becoming as the walls close in and his former friends look for ways out.