‘AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign…’
(AFP) Federal prosecutors said Wednesday they have granted immunity to a publisher who paid $150,000 to a Playboy model to prevent her from going public with her claim to have had an affair with Donald Trump.
The US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York said it had reached a “non-prosecution agreement” with American Media Inc (AMI), publisher of the tabloid the National Enquirer.
Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, was sentenced to three years in prison on Wednesday for various crimes, including paying a total of $280,000 in “hush money” to silence two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump before he was a candidate for president.
One of those women was porn actress Stormy Daniels, who prosecutors said was paid $130,000 by Cohen to keep quiet about her sexual encounter with Trump.
The other was a former Playboy model named Karen McDougal, who was paid $150,000 by Cohen through AMI, whose chairman and chief executive, David Pecker, is a longtime friend of Trump.
“As a part of the agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election,” the US Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
“AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election,” it said.
The US Attorney’s Office said AMI had provided “substantial and important assistance in this investigation, and its agreement to provide cooperation in the future.”
Cohen admitted to committing campaign finance violations by making the payments, which prosecutors have said were made at the direction of Trump.
Trump this week sought to downplay the significance of the payments claiming that they were a “simple private transaction” and were being “wrongly” characterized as campaign contributions.