Washington: Federal prosecutors have granted immunity to Trump Organisation Chief Financial Officer Allen Weisselberg in a probe involving US President Donald Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, the Wall Street Journal reported on Friday.
Weisselberg was called to testify before a federal grand jury earlier this year, the Journal said.
A cooperation deal between Weisselberg and prosecutors could be damaging to Trump given the executive’s longtime role in Trump’s business affairs. Weisselberg has worked for the Trump family for more than four decades, including as treasurer for the Donald J. Trump Foundation.
Cohen, who arranged hush-money payments before the November 2016 US presidential election to at least two women who had said they had sex with Trump, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to campaign finance violations and other charges. He said Trump directed him to arrange the payments.
Such payments could be considered illegal campaign contributions under federal election law.
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 David Pecker, a longtime Trump friend.
A spokeswoman for the US 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.
Weisselberg was mentioned by Cohen on a secret recording the lawyer made in September 2016 and aired on CNN last month. On the recording, Cohen and Trump appeared to discuss reimbursing American Media for a payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who has said she had a yearlong affair with Trump. Trump has denied the affair.
Trump has also denied having sex with the second woman, adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
On the tape, Cohen is heard saying, “I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up.”
McDougal sold her story to American Media for USD 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.