Week 66: Trump Learns Loyalty Has Its Limits


Two of the president’s men jumped into the storm cellar this week and locked it behind them to escape the legal storm tornadoing down on President Donald Trump.

On Friday we learned that Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization’s long-time financial consigliere and keeper of all of Trump’s personal money secrets, had accepted immunity from federal prosecutors in return for information on Michael Cohen. Cohen, his former attorney and go-to fixer, pleaded guilty this week to two felony campaign finance charges and claimed that Trump directed him to make the illegal hush-money payouts. Trump’s long-time friend and ally David Pecker, whose National Enquirer served as a sort of Pravda for the Trump campaign and the early months of his presidency, also grabbed the immunity life-ring.

Just a couple of days before the two Trump associates agreed to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for information of value to the feds, the president expressed his disdain for “flippers,” as he calls them, to Fox News. The practice of trading testimony for immunity or a lesser charge “almost ought to be illegal,” Trump insisted. The president has been silent about the latest flippers, but their betrayal must have stung with the pain of a reopened wound. Add to the excitement the best-selling treacheries of Omarosa Manigault Newman, the conviction of former campaign manager Paul Manafort (who has resisted, so far, pressure to turn on Trump), and the news that White House counsel Don McGahn spent 30 hours talking to the special counsel, you’re probably looking at the Trump presidency’s worst week. His best line of defense is probably a wave of pardons, but that might cause political insurrection among a majority of voters who don’t look kindly on that kind of executive privilege.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Pecker has shared with prosecutors “Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals.” But Pecker knows much more about Trump than the hush-money deal Pecker’s company set up for Playboy model Karen McDougal, an alleged ex-lover of Trump’s. The Associated Press reports that the National Enquirer kept “documents on hush money and other damaging stories it killed” related to Trump stored in a company safe.

“The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents pertaining to other celebrities’ catch-and-kill deals, in which exclusive rights to people’s stories were bought with no intention of publishing to keep them out of the news. By keeping celebrities’ embarrassing secrets, the company was able to ingratiate itself with them and ask for favors in return,” the AP reported.

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