In discussing Michael Cohen on Thursday, President Trump complained about people who wind up striking deals with prosecutors. Now it appears that another of his allies has done just that: Vanity Fair reports that David Pecker, who is the CEO of the parent company of the National Enquirer, was granted immunity in exchange for his cooperation in the Cohen investigation. Pecker, a longtime friend of both Cohen and Trump, met with federal prosecutors to provide details about the payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in exchange for their silence about alleged affairs with Trump, reports the Wall Street Journal. Prosecutors say Pecker's company, American Media, played a role in both payments.
The company's role in the McDougal story has been previously reported. At Cohen's urging, American Media purchased the rights to her story for $150,000, then did not publish it, a practice known in the tabloid business as "catch and kill." The question is whether Pecker and his company might have violated any campaign finance laws along the way, but his immunity deal will shield him (and another American Media exec) from prosecution. The Vanity Fair post by Gabriel Sherman says the Enquirer "operated as a de-facto arm" of the Trump campaign leading up to the election, but it adds that Trump and Pecker, once close, have not spoken in about eight months. (Read more National Enquirer stories.)