×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

American Media CEO David Pecker Granted Immunity in Michael Cohen Case (Report)

WASHINGTON — David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., which is the publisher of the National Enquirer, has been granted immunity and is cooperating with federal prosecutors as part of the investigation of Michael Cohen and payments made to two women who claim to have had affairs with Donald Trump.

Vanity Fair reported on the immunity agreement, and it was confirmed by the New York Times and NBC News.

The court documents unsealed at the time of Cohen’s guilty plea earlier this week outline a pattern of cooperation between AMI and the Trump campaign starting in 2015. Prosecutors claim that AMI and the Enquirer tipped off the Trump campaign of potentially damaging stories. In the case of Karen McDougal, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007, AMI’s Dylan Howard arranged a $150,000 payment for her limited life rights. The purpose was to keep the story from getting published elsewhere, while it never saw the light of day in the Enquirer.

Pecker is a friend of Trump’s and would have access to emails and other records to corroborate prosecutors’ claims about the payments and whether Trump was aware of them.

Cohen plead guilty to five counts of tax fraud, one count of lying on a bank application, and two campaign finance violations. He told a judge that he arranged the payments at Trump’s direction, with the goal of preventing potentially embarrassing information from influencing the election.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in New York declined to comment. A spokesman for AMI did not return a request for comment.

During the campaign, the Enquirer ran almost universally favorable coverage of Trump and negative stories about his rivals, including Ted Cruz and Hillary Clinton.

A question raised by campaign finance experts is whether AMI would also have liability. Federal law prohibits corporations from directly contributing to campaigns.

Trevor Potter, the founder and president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said earlier this week that “generally, the corporate parent of a news organization is not protected by the ‘press exemption,’ especially when acting outside their ‘press function.’

“Here, Cohen says they entered into an agreement with Trump and his campaign to use corporate money to squelch information detrimental to Trump’s election. That presents a serious legal problem for AMI.”

Popular on Variety

More Politics

  • Elizabeth Warren Taylor Swift

    Elizabeth Warren Backs Taylor Swift in Big Machine Battle, Slams Private Equity Firms

    Taylor Swift’s battle with Big Machine has spilled into the political arena. Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren retweeted Swift’s Thursday message about her former record label preventing her from performing her old hits at the American Music Awards, adding that Swift is “one of many whose work as been threatened by a private equity firm.” [...]

  • Adam Schiff

    Adam Schiff Slams 'That Charlatan in the White House'

    Adam Schiff was greeted as a hero at the state party convention in Long Beach on Saturday morning, as he urged California Democrats to help defeat “that charlatan in the White House.” Schiff, who chairs the House Intelligence Committee, appeared at the convention after leading the opening week of impeachment hearings against President Trump. He [...]

  • Roger Stone

    Roger Stone, Trump Ally, Found Guilty of Lying to Congress, Witness Tampering

    Roger Stone was found guilty on Friday in his false statements and obstruction trial. He faces up to 20 years in prison. The political operative and long-time confidant of President Donald Trump was convicted by a federal jury in Washington, D.C., of all seven counts against him, including witness tampering and making false statements. After [...]

  • Marie Yovanovitch

    Trump Attacks Former Ukraine Ambassador During Impeachment Testimony

    President Donald Trump lashed out at the former U.S. ambassador to Ukraine as she testified on Friday morning in the House impeachment hearings. Marie Yovanovitch, who was removed from her post in May, testified that foreign policy toward Ukraine had come under the sway of foreign corrupt interests. She said she felt personally threatened by [...]

  • Career Foreign Service officer George Kent,

    TV Ratings: Fox News, ABC Draw Big Impeachment Numbers

    The first day of the impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump drew over 13 million total viewers across the broadcast and news networks combined. Fox News’s coverage from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. drew the highest total viewership of any network, averaging around 2.9 million sets of eyeballs. MSNBC followed in second with 2.7 million [...]

  • Career Foreign Service officer George Kent

    Impeachment Hearings: Bill Taylor Testifies About 'Alarm' Regarding Ukraine Aid

    Bill Taylor, the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, testified on Wednesday that he became increasingly alarmed as it became clear that U.S. military aid was conditioned on launching investigations into former Vice President Joe Biden and the 2016 election. Taylor and George Kent, the deputy assistant secretary of state, were the first witnesses called to [...]

  • Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel WME

    Endeavor PAC Goes Quiet as Candidates Reject Corporate Cash

    In February 2017, Hollywood was gripped by a spirit of resistance to the Trump administration. Endeavor bosses Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell pledged to do their part to fight back by organizing a political action committee. The committee, Endeavor Action, took in almost $300,000 in 2017 and 2018, and distributed about half that money to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content