Donald Trump sounded a bit like a mob boss yesterday, complaining to Fox News about suspected criminals cooperating with prosecutors. "I have had many friends involved in this stuff," the president said. "It's called 'flipping' and it almost ought to be illegal."
As ridiculous a position as this was, it's easy to understand how and why Trump arrived at this point. For example, the president's former "fixer," Michael Cohen, said this week that he's prepared to provide information to federal prosecutors, including Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Yesterday, we also learned that David Pecker, the CEO of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer tabloid, and by some accounts, AMI's chief content officer, Dylan Howard, has been granted immunity, too.
But this morning, the revelations took an even more serious turn with this report from the Wall Street Journal.
Allen Weisselberg, President Trump's longtime financial gatekeeper, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors for providing information about Michael Cohen in the criminal investigation into hush-money payments for two women during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to people familiar with the matter. [...]The decision by prosecutors in the Manhattan U.S. attorney's office to grant immunity to Mr. Weisselberg escalates the pressure on Mr. Trump.
NBC News' report added that Weisselberg, the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, is apparently "Executive 1" referenced in the prosecutors' filing in the Michael Cohen case, which means he was directly involved in reimbursing Cohen for the hush-money payment he made to Stormy Daniels before the election.
And given what we know about Weisselberg's role in Trump's organization, if the president wasn't nervous before, it's very likely that he's nervous now.
As we discussed in July, after the public learned that he'd been subpoenaed to testify before a federal grand jury, Weisselberg has served as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Trump Organization, which gives him unique insights into all sorts of things. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Weisselberg was once described by a person close to the company as "the most senior person in the organization that's not a Trump."
NBC News' Katy Tur spoke to a former Trump Organization employee who added that Weisselberg "knows where all financial bodies are buried within the Trump Organization."
And as Rachel has noted on the show, Weisselberg has been directly involved in everything from possible payments to the president's former alleged mistresses to the scandal-plagued Trump Foundation to helping prepare Trump's tax returns.
When Weisselberg spoke to the grand jury, Bloomberg Opinion's Timothy O'Brien called it "one of the more momentous turns thus far in the various investigations of the president -- because it potentially brings the probe right into Trump's wallet."
Now that we know Weisselberg was given immunity by prosecutors, it has the potential to be an even bigger deal.