Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg granted immunity in Cohen probe
- Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into President Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen.
- Weisselberg's ties to the president go back decades: He has overseen the Trump Organization's finances, been involved in the Trump Foundation, the president's charity, and has managed Trump's private trust alongside his eldest sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr.
- Weisselberg was subpoenaed by prosecutors earlier this year to testify before a grand jury as part of that probe.
Allen Weisselberg, longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors as part of their investigation into President Donald Trump's former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, NBC News reported Friday, citing multiple people with knowledge of the matter.
On Tuesday, without using Weisselberg's name, federal prosecutors accused him in a document of instructing an unidentified Trump Organization employee to reimburse Cohen for hush-money payments to one of two women who claimed they had extramarital affairs with Trump.
The immunity grant to Weisselberg, who is referred to as "Executive 1" in the Manhattan federal court documents, adds to the legal woes of the president.
In pleading guilty Tuesday to campaign finance violations, Cohen claimed Trump directed him to make the payments in the months before the 2016 election. Also Tuesday, Trump's former campaign chief, Paul Manafort, was convicted in a separate case brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. On Thursday, Trump friend David Pecker, chairman of publishing giant American Media Inc., received immunity as part of the Cohen investigation.
Pecker shared information with prosecutors about the payments to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and porn star Stormy Daniels in exchange for immunity, including details about the president's knowledge of the payments. The White House denies Trump had affairs with the women.
Weisselberg's ties to the president go back decades. He has overseen the Trump Organization's finances, was treasurer of the Trump Foundation, the president's charity, and has managed Trump's private trust alongside the president's eldest sons, Eric Trump and Donald Trump Jr. He was reportedly subpoenaed by prosecutors earlier this year to testify before a grand jury as part of that inquiry.
Trump and his attorneys have denied any wrongdoing, and Trump had pushed back angrily against Cohen's plea bargain. In a Fox News interview this week, the president said it should be "illegal" for people facing criminal charges to make deals with the government.
"It's called flipping, and it almost ought to be illegal," Trump said of Cohen's move. "It's not a fair thing."
Weisselberg, who has maintained a low profile despite his leadership of the Trump Organization, was thrust into the spotlight in July, when a surreptitiously recorded conversation with Trump became public. In it, Cohen mentioned Weisselberg while discussing payments to McDougal. McDougal sold the rights to her story to Pecker's AMI for $150,000 in a deal Cohen admitted he was involved in. In a practice known as "catch and kill," AMI never published the story in order to avoid a scandal just before the November 2016 election, Cohen said in his plea.
Cohen told Trump in the recording he planned to set up a company to finance the purchase of the rights from American Media and had consulted Weisselberg on the process of doing so.
Alan Futerfas, an attorney for the Trump Organization, declined a request for comment from CNBC. Neither the White House nor an attorney for Cohen responded to a request for comment Friday.
News of the Weisselberg immunity deal was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
— CNBC's Brian Schwartz contributed to this report.
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