American Media Inc (AMI) chief executive David Pecker has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors in the ongoing investigations into former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen’s role in offering hush money to women on behalf of the U.S. president, according to various news reports that started emerging Thursday (August 23).
The federal immunity was granted in exchange for information on Cohen, who on Tuesday pleaded guilty to eight criminal charges, including tax fraud and campaign finance violations that could likely put him away for years.
Pecker and Cohen are believed to have worked together to buy off the silence of porn star Stephanie Clifford – professionally known as Stormy Daniels – and ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal, who had been threatening to go public with their stories about their alleged sexual encounters with Trump, during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Daniels and McDougal, by the way, have not been named in the plea bargain filed in court
Cohen admitted in court on Tuesday that he and the “CEO of a media company, at the request of the candidate, worked together” to muffle the scandal that could have well thrown a spanner in the works for the Trump campaign.
Although details of the plea deal have not been made available yet, Pecker is reported to have given prosecutors detailed evidence of the president’s knowledge of the hush money paid out to the two female accusers.
Meanwhile, Trump has denied having had any knowledge of the hush-money payments until “later on,” without giving a specific date.
However, contrary to the U.S. president’s claim, Trump can be heard talking to Cohen about buying off the McDougal story from AMI in a September 2016 tape released by Cohen’s attorney Lanny Davis.
Speaking to Fox News host Ainsley Earhardt, following the Cohen plea bargain, Trump said, “You have to understand, Ainsley, what he did — and they weren’t taken out of campaign finance.”
He added: “In fact, my first question when I heard about it was, ‘Did they come out of the campaign?’ because that could be a little dicey. And they didn’t come out of the campaign, and that’s big.”
Trump even went to the extent of suggesting that plea agreements between the government and people facing prosecution are unfair and should be deemed “illegal.”
“It’s called flipping and it almost ought to be illegal,” Trump said, adding that it wasn’t “a fair thing.”
Long-time Trump ally Pecker is accused of playing a significant role in quashing damaging stories against the president by purchasing the story rights from the accuser and not publishing them – a practice known in the industry as “catch-and-kill.”
In the case of McDougal, AMI-owned tabloid magazine National Enquirer purchased the rights to her story, wherein she was claiming a sexual relationship with the president, for $150,000.
The Trump- McDougal thing is believed to have happened when he was already married to Melania, making it even more scandalous and damaging for the White House.
While the Justice Department (DOJ) didn’t mention Pecker by name, they did say on Tuesday that the “chairman” of “a media company that owns, among other things, a popular tabloid magazine” was also responsible for bringing Cohen and Stormy Daniels together for the hush-deal in which the porn was paid $130,000 in October 2016.
According to the Tuesday court filing, the prosecutors meant Pecker – that’s what everyone believes – when they said “Chairman-1 offered to help deal with negative stories about [President Trump’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 Wall Street Journal had reported earlier this year that Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen finalized a non-disclosure agreement for $130,000, initiated by Stephanie Clifford’s (Stormy Daniels) lawyer a month before the 2016 US presidential election, to buy the former porn star’s silence on her sexual relationship with the US president.
Known for her steamy movies, Daniels reportedly told friends that she met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, which led to the so-called sexual encounter, “people familiar with the matter” told WSJ.
Clifford, who has appeared in dozens of porn movies, including “Good Will Humping” and “Porking with Pride #2”, as well as feature films such as the “40-Year-Old Virgin” and “Knocked Up,” was reportedly arrested in 2009 for “domestic battery” after an altercation with her husband.
In October 2011, Hooman Karamian, who goes by the alias Nik Richie on his gossip website TheDirty.com, ran a report from an anonymous whistleblower under the heading “World Exclusive: Donald Trump Cheats on His Wife Melania Trump While She Was Pregnant.”
The tipster wrote: “Donald Trump is the scum of the earth! Not only did he break up my friend’s marriage, but he also cheated on Melania Trump as she was pregnant with his child. My friend had sex with Donald after one of his golfing events and he lured her to multiple hotels [sic] rooms after that.
My friend wants to speak with you directly because she is in fear that Donald Trump will ruin her life more than he already has.”
Richie followed-up with a post of his own saying, “I know you cheated on your wife with Stephanie Gregory Clifford aka Stormy Daniels and now the world knows.”
In late October 2016, prior to Clifford’s story, another porn artist Jessie Drake had accused the president of offering her $10,000 for having sex with him in 2006, after he kissed her without her consent.
Peter Stris, McDougal’s legal representative in her lawsuit against AMI seeking annulment of the hush-deal, wrote “Told you so” in a Thursday tweet.
He tweeted: “To all media asking our firm to comment on
#NationalEnquirer publisher #DavidPecker getting immunity from prosecution in exchange for corroboration of his collusion w #MichaelCohen + @realDonaldTrump in silencing #KarenMcDougal, here is our official statement: “Told you so.”
Here are some reactions on Twitter.
Ut oh dotard! Looks like David Pecker told the truth to #Mueller about you. Spin that one too lardo. #DavidPeckerGotTrumpInThePecker#DavidPeckerGotTrumpInThePecker#DavidPeckerGotTrumpInThePecker#DavidPeckerGotTrumpInThePecker
— Marci in Scottsdale, AZ 🌵☀️✡️🦄 (@marci_message) August 23, 2018
#DavidPecker head of @NatEnquirer has flipped on #TraitorTrump. Oh, Donnie, you are fucked. You are really, truly fucked. I'll say it again: #PRF: Pardon, Resign, Flee the country. It's time to grab a bag of cash and GTFO the country.
— Michael Grant REGISTER and VOTE! (@MichaelGrantBks) August 23, 2018
Lord have mercy.
— Rabbi Michael Adam Latz #BlackLivesMatter (@RavMABAY) August 23, 2018
Has @realDonaldTrump been using “dirt” from #Russia and #DavidPecker to blackmail #Republican members of Congress into helping him sabotage Investigations? People like Ryan, McConnell , Nunes, Graham and others?#TraitorTrump #ExtortionistTrump #Resist
— Charles Parmele (@ceparmele) August 23, 2018