Aug 24, 2018
Offering the latest evidence that the walls are closing in on President Donald Trump, federal prosecuters reportedly have granted immunity to Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg for providing information about the president's longtime personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who pleaded guilty this week to violating campaign finance laws at Trump's direction, to pay off two women who say they had affairs with Trump.
Following previous reports that Weisselberg had testified before a grand jury earlier this year, the Wall Street Journalbroke the immunity revelation on Friday. Describing Weisselberg as "Trump's longtime financial gatekeeper," the Journal noted that he has been an executive at the Trump Organization for decades, and "after Mr. Trump was elected, he handed control of his financial assets and business interests to his two adult sons and Mr. Weisselberg."
In the immediate wake of the news, legal analyst Harry Litman, a former U.S. attorney, toldMSNBC there is now "a sense that the dam is breaking over the last week and people are rushing in from all sides."
According to Litman, "Everybody's who around Trump now--and has been over the last ten years intimately--is in a world of hurt with legal battles on all sides."
News of Weisselberg's immunity deal followed reporting on Thursday that David Pecker and Dylan Howard, two top executives at American Media Inc. (AMI), publisher of the tabloid The National Enquirer, were also granted immunity for sharing information with prosecutors about the hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal.
"Pecker's apparent decision to corroborate Cohen's account, and implicate Trump in a federal crime, is another vivid example of how isolated Trump is becoming," wrote Vanity Fair's Gabriel Sherman, who broke the AMI story. On Tuesday--the same day as Cohen's plea--former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on bank and tax fraud felonies.
Trump's isolation was the focus of The New Yorker's new cover, revealed Friday, which depicts hounds closing in on the president:
In an interview with "Fox & Friends" that aired Thursday morning, Trump denounced the longstanding legal practice of "flipping" former confidantes for criminal investigations and court proceedings, declaring that it "almost ought to be illegal."
The mounting convictions, guilty pleas, and grants of immunity this week, all "provide leverage and pressure on Trump himself," concluded Litman. "If the organization goes down, it's terrible for him. If all his people are put under pressure and tell the secrets they know, it's terrible for him. There's a real sense that the criminal justice system is biting back [against the president]."
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