Vanity Fair reported this morning that The National Enquirer’s chairman, CEO of American Media, Inc., and Donald Trump’s longtime friend, David Pecker, has been granted immunity by prosecutors in the Michael Cohen investigation. Dylan Howard, A.M.I.’s chief content officer, was also granted immunity, according to sources knowledgeable of the circumstances.
They were granted immunity and prosecutors have indicated they will not press charges, freeing Pecker and Howard to discuss the particulars of the hush-money deals made on behalf of Donald Trump during the 2016 presidential election.
Pecker, Howard, and the Southern District of New York spokesperson all declined to comment on the immunity deal.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Pecker has shared information with prosecutors about the payments made by Michael Cohen to silence two women who say they have had sexual relationships with President Trump as well as details regarding Trump’s knowledge of those payments.
Mr. Pecker’s assistance appeared to have informed the charging documents made public on Tuesday as part of Mr. Cohen’s guilty plea to eight criminal charges, including campaign-finance violations tied to the payments.
During his guilty-plea hearing, Mr. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s former personal lawyer, said that at Mr. Trump’s direction, he broke federal laws on campaign contributions by coordinating payments to the two women for the purpose of suppressing negative information about Mr. Trump and influencing the 2016 election.The Wall Street Journal
A.M.I. was involved in the deals that silenced Stephanie Clifford, aka Stormy Daniels, and Karen McDougal. The $130,000 payment to Stormy, a porn star, prevented her from publicly discussing the affair she claims to have had with Donald Trump in 2006. A.M.I. purchased Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of her alleged affair with Trump for $150,000, and in a “catch-and-kill” plan, never published it.
These two deals were the basis for Michael Cohen’s guilty plea to campaign finance violations on Tuesday, and which served to influence the 2016 election by suppressing negative news about Trump.
The National Enquirer was one of President Trump’s most powerful media allies and provided attacks on Trump’s rivals during the 2016 campaign, at times acting much like a wing of the campaign itself. The Washington Post reported that the Enquirer, as a matter of routine, got Trump’s approval for articles it published. Not only did it attack Hillary Clinton, but the tabloid exposed Ben Carson’s malpractice suit and accused Ted Cruz of having five mystery mistresses.
That former close relationship has fallen apart. According to Vanity Fair’s sources, Pecker and Trump aren’t on speaking terms, having not spoken for eight months. As for Dylan Howard, the source states that there is “no love lost”, he hates Trump and feels “used and abused” by the president. The fact that the Enquirer via David Pecker has turned on Trump is significant.
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. “Holy shit, I thought Pecker would be the last one to turn,” a Trump friend told me when I brought up the news. Trump and Pecker have been close for years. According to the Trump friend, Pecker regularly flew on Trump’s plane from New York to Florida. In July 2013, Trump tweeted that Pecker should become C.E.O. of Time magazine. “He’d make it exciting and win awards!”Vanity Fair
Why It Matters
In a week which saw reports that White House Counsel Don McGahn has been “fully” cooperating with the Special Counsel’s office, President Trump’s lawyer plead guilty to 8 counts in a Manhattan courtroom, and his former campaign manager convicted on 8 counts by a Virginia jury, this news about Pecker will be yet another betrayal to a president to whom loyalty is a one way street. How Trump and his advisers push back against this latest set back will no doubt involve tweets, meme-producing interviews, and Fox & Friends softball questions.
As his legal peril increases, we can also expect the craziness to proportionally increase as well.