David Pecker, the chairman of National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc., gave federal prosecutors information on payments arranged by Michael Cohen to women who claimed they had sex with President Trump, people familiar with the matter told The Wall Street Journal on Wednesday.
Pecker also said Trump knew about the deals. Cohen, Trump's former personal attorney, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to eight federal crimes, including tax evasion. In court, Cohen said he was directed by Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election to pay off two women who said they had sexual encounters with him, in violation of campaign finance laws. Prosecutors said Pecker, a friend of Trump's, offered to keep any negative stories sent to the National Enquirer under wraps.
Last weekend, Cohen's lawyers met with federal prosecutors who revealed they had bank records, tax filings, home loan applications, and testimony from Cohen's accountant and business partners that implicated him and his wife of potential criminal activity, the Journal reports. They said Cohen would face close to 20 criminal counts, and perhaps years in prison.
Cohen, who once declared he'd take a bullet for Trump, said in July he would put his family and country first, not Trump, and the Journal reports that his father, a Holocaust survivor, told him he didn't fight for his life in order to have his name ruined by Trump. Read more about what pushed Cohen to plead guilty at The Wall Street Journal. Catherine Garcia