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David Pecker granted immunity in Michael Cohen case

By
Daniel Uria
Federal prosecutors granted American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker immunity in the investigation into hush-money payments to two women by President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, seen here after pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud and tax evasion on Tuesday. Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI
Federal prosecutors granted American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker immunity in the investigation into hush-money payments to two women by President Donald Trump's former personal attorney Michael Cohen, seen here after pleading guilty to campaign finance fraud and tax evasion on Tuesday. Photo by Corey Sipkin/UPI | License Photo

Aug. 23 (UPI) -- Tabloid executive David Pecker was granted immunity by federal prosecutors investigating payments to two women who said they had affairs with President Donald Trump.

Pecker -- the chief executive and chairman of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer -- shared details with prosecutors about payments made by Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, to silence women who alleged to have had sexual encounters with Trump, in exchange for immunity, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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Prosecutors indicated they wouldn't pursue charges against Pecker or Dylan Howard, chief content officer of American Media, for participating in the deals.

Cohen entered a guilty plea Tuesday on eight counts, which include five counts of tax evasion, and one count each of excessive campaign contribution, causing an unlawful corporate contribution and false statements to a bank.

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He also said Trump directed him to pay adult film star Stormy Daniels -- also known as Stephanie Clifford -- and former Playboy model Karen McDougal to keep them quiet about alleged affairs with Trump in order to prevent the stories from influencing the 2016 presidential election.

Trump has denied both affairs.

Court documents filed Tuesday cited encrypted communications among Pecker, Howard and Cohen in which they discussed the payment to Daniels, The New York Times reported.

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Prosecutors said in August 2015 Pecker offered to track down and purchase stories about Trump's alleged relationships with women and not publish them, in a practice known as "catch and kill."

American Media employees were involved in paying $130,000 to Daniels to keep her from publicly discussing the alleged affair and American Media paid McDougal $150,000 at Cohen's request in 2016 to purchase her exclusive story of a 10-month affair with Trump.

McDougal's story was never published and Choen created a shell cooperation, Resolution Consultants LLC, to purchase the rights to the story from American Media for $125,000, but prosecutors said Pecker backed out of the deal.

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It wasn't immediately clear whether prosecutors agreed not to pursue American Media for making an unlawful corporate campaign contribution.

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