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U.S. Politics Prosecutors grant Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg immunity in Cohen probe: report

Federal prosecutors have granted immunity to Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg in a probe involving U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal has reported.

Mr. Weisselberg was called to testify before a federal grand jury earlier this year, the Journal said.

A co-operation deal between Mr. Weisselberg and prosecutors could be damaging to Mr. Trump given the executive’s long-time role in Mr. Trump’s business affairs. Mr. Weisselberg has worked for the Trump family for more than four decades, including as treasurer for the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

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Mr. Cohen, who arranged hush-money payments before the November, 2016, U.S. presidential election to at least two women who had said they had sex with Mr. Trump, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance violations and other charges. He said Mr. Trump directed him to arrange the payments.

Such payments could be considered illegal campaign contributions under federal election law.

U.S. President Trump delivers remarks at the Ohio Republican Party State Dinner in Columbus, Ohio, Aug. 24, 2018.

LEAH MILLIS/Reuters

Two executives at American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, a supermarket tabloid reportedly involved in making the payments, have also been granted immunity in the investigation, according to news media reports. One of the executives is American Media chief executive officer David Pecker, a long-time Trump friend.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, which has been leading the Cohen investigation, declined to comment. The Trump Organization did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer for the organization, also did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Mr. Weisselberg was mentioned by Mr. Cohen on a secret recording the lawyer made in September, 2016, and aired on CNN last month. On the recording, Mr. Cohen and Mr. Trump appeared to discuss reimbursing American Media for a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who has said she had a year-long affair with Mr. Trump. He has denied the affair.

Mr. Trump has also denied having sex with the second woman, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.

On the tape, Mr. Cohen is heard saying: “I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up.”

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Ms. McDougal sold her story to American Media for US$150,000 in August, 2016, but it was never published by the National Enquirer, a practice known as “catch and kill” aimed at suppressing potentially damaging stories.

This content appears as provided to The Globe by the originating wire service. It has not been edited by Globe staff.

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