Federal prosecutors have reportedly granted immunity to David Pecker, a longtime friend of President Donald Trump and the CEO of American Media Inc. (AMI), the parent company of the National Enquirer, in exchange for information on Michael Cohen, the president’s longtime personal attorney, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Cohen pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight counts, which included campaign finance violations stemming from hush money agreements made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who both claimed to have had affairs with Trump.
In a federal courthouse earlier this week, Cohen admitted to making those payments “in coordination and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” referring to Trump.
As part of the deal, Pecker has agreed to provide information relating to the payments made to Daniels and McDougal in the lead up to the 2016 presidential election, as Cohen and AMI allegedly cooperated in coordinating the payments, The Huffington Post reports.
Daniels received $130,000 for the rights to her story regarding her alleged affair with Trump, and McDougal received $150,000 from AMI for the exclusive rights to her story. AMI, however, never published McDougal’s story.
In the criminal information charging document filed Tuesday as part of Cohen’s guilty plea, prosecutors allege that a person identified as “Chairman-1,” who is believed to be Pecker, “in coordination with MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, and one or more members of the campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-1’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.”
The criminal information also stated that “Chairman-1 agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories.” According to court documents, Cohen and Pecker agreed to suppress these negative stories about Trump just two months after he announced he would run for office.
After securing immunity, Pecker told prosecutors that he worked with Cohen on the hush money agreements for Daniels and McDougal, and said Trump knew about the deal all along, a source told ABC News.
Because of the deal with prosecutors, Pecker, as well as AMI Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard, will avoid criminal charges.
ABC News reported in April that the search warrant executed by federal investigators at Cohen’s home, hotel and office for documents belonging to Cohen that included specific mentions of AMI, as well as his work for Trump, such as secret deals with mistresses.
Pecker has long considered Trump a “personal friend” and the National Enquirer drew criticism during the presidential campaign for endorsing Trump for president, HuffPost reports.
As for now, Cohen is scheduled to be sentenced in December.