MANHATTAN (CN) – Signaling increased fissures within the president’s pack, federal prosecutors have reportedly granted immunity to the Trump Organization’s senior bookkeeper.
A spokesman for the Southern District of New York acknowledged the reports of Allen Weisselberg’s cooperation but declined to comment.
The new Friday came just a day after reports of a similar deal with Trump’s longtime friend David Pecker, chairman and CEO of National Enquirer publisher American Media. This in turn followed the guilty plea by Trump’s former fixer and personal attorney pleaded guilty to eight counts in federal court.
Though not named in the Cohen’s complaint or plea agreements, Weisselberg is believed to “Executive 1” identified in the 22-page criminal information filed by prosecutors in the Cohen case on Tuesday.
Weisselberg’s alleged involvement in Cohen’s payments for Trump lie in count 7, which states that Cohen “knowingly and willfully caused a corporation to make a contribution and expenditure, aggregating $25,000 and more during the 2016 calendar year, to the campaign of a candidate for President of the United States, to wit, Cohen caused Corporation-1 to make and advance a $150,000 payment to Woman-1, including through the promise of reimbursement, so as to ensure that Woman-1 did not publicize damaging allegations before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election.”
Woman-1 is a reference to Karen McDougal, a Playboy model who allegedly began trying to sell a story in 2006 and 2007 about her alleged affair with Trump.
Because there was an arrangement in place for Pecker to suppress negative stories about Trump — a strategy known in tabloid circles as “catch and kill” — Cohen quickly learned of McDougal’s jockeying.
Cohen’s plea contends that “Executive-1” forwarded an email from Cohen in February 2017 containing monthly invoices for services rendered for the past two months. The email directed another employee at the company: “Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put ‘retainer for the months of January and February 2017’ in the description.”
Cohen also mentioned Weisselberg in a September 2016 conversation with Trump that Cohen secretly recorded, in which the men discussed buying the story rights to McDougal, the former Playboy model who claims she had an affair with the president.
On the tape, recorded by Cohen two months before the 2016 presidential election, Cohen mentions the Trump Organization by name while discussing a shell corporation he set up to process the payment. “I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” Cohen said.
CNN aired the recording of that conversation in July 2018.
The government’s information against Cohen says he received monthly $35,000 reimbursement checks, totaling $420,000.
Weisselberg, 70, began his career with the Trump Organization as an accountant in the 1970s, when Donald Trump’s father, Fred, ran the company.
Weisselberg was also treasurer of The Donald J. Trump Foundation, the president’s charitable organization, which has been sued by the New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood.
A representative for the state’s Department of Taxation and Finance confirmed Wednesday that Cohen was subpoenaed for “relevant information in light of the public disclosures made [in his plea deal].”
Longtime Trump Organization counsel Alan Garten did not immediately respond to request for comment Friday.