The Wall Street Journal, Vanity Fair and others are reporting that two long-time allies of President Donald Trump—American Media CEO David Pecker and Australian journalist Dylan Howard (American Media’s vice president/chief content officer) are now cooperating with the federal government in its ongoing investigation of Trump and his associates. This follows the stunning developments of August 21, when Trump’s personal attorney Michael Cohen pled guilty to eight federal charges(including tax evasion and felony campaign finance violations) and his former campaign manager Paul Manafort was convicted on eight counts (including tax evasion and bank fraud) in Alexandria, Virginia. Federal prosecutors have promised Pecker and Howard immunity from prosecution in exchange for their cooperation, which will include providing any information they have on hush-money payments made to adult film star Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a. Stormy Daniels, and Playboy model Karen McDougal (both of whom Trump allegedly had extramarital affairs with).
Pecker and Howard have officially joined Cohen, Rick Gates (Manafort’s former business partner) and other long-time Trump allies who have “flipped” and are now looking after their own interests rather than going out of their way to protect the president and his associates. And there is speculation that Manafort, given all his legal woes, could “flip” as well.
Here are seven long-time Trump allies who “flipped” on the president and his associates and decided to reveal everything they know.
1. Rick Gates
Rick Gates not only spent many years as Manafort’s business partner—he was also a campaign aid for Trump in 2016. And when Gates was pulled into the investigation of Robert Mueller (former FBI director from 2001-2013 and now special counsel for the U.S. Justice Department) into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and related matters, he agreed to flip on Manafort in exchange for a more lenient sentence. Gates was the federal government’s star witness in Manafort’s recent trial in Alexandria, Virginia, offering extensive testimony on the bank fraud and tax evasion Manafort was accused of. Gates was instrumental in Manafort being convicted of eight of the 18 charges he was hit with—and Manafort, according to juror Paula Duncan, would have been convicted of all 18 had a lone juror not been a holdout on the ten charges that Judge T.S. Ellis declared a mistrial on.
2. David Pecker
American Media publishes the National Enquirer, which has been a bastion of trash “journalism” since 1926. Back in the 1930s, the Enquirer published pro-fascist anti-Semitic propaganda and vilified Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s presidency—although in the 1970s and 1980s, it was better known for goofy accounts of Americans encountering zombies or being kidnapped by flying saucers. Pecker was a major supporter of Trump’s 2016 campaign, publishing a series of over-the-top anti-Hillary Clinton articles—and in the 1990s, he had promoted Trump’s business interests by published the quarterly magazine Trump Style. The Wall Street Journal is reporting that in 2015 and 2016, Pecker and American Media had a “catch and kill” agreement with Cohen, meaning that the Enquirer would purchase exclusive rights to negative stories about Trump but wouldn’t publish them. According to federal prosecutors, Pecker offered, in August 2015, to help Cohen find negative stories about Trump’s relationships with women and kill the stories.
3. Dylan Howard
Federal prosecutors allege that in June 2016, Pecker and Howard contacted Cohen to inform him that McDougal was trying to sell them a story about her alleged affair with Trump in 2006/2007—and Cohen asked them to purchase the story and agreed to reimburse American Media. In August 2016, American Media agreed to pay McDougal $150,000 for the story, and Cohen created a dummy corporation called Resolution Consultants in order to purchase the story from American Media for $125,000. Now, with Howard agreeing to cooperate with federal prosecutors in exchange for immunity, it’s in his best interests to be as forthcoming as possible about his dealings with Cohen during the Trump campaign.
4. Michael Flynn
Sean Hannity, one of Trump’s leading propagandists at Fox News, has been promoting a legal defense fund for Michael Flynn—and Flynn, who advised the Trump campaign on national security matters in 2016 and briefly served as the Trump administration’s national security advisor in 2017, has had plenty of legal troubles. In December 2017, Flynn—who has been cooperating with Mueller’s team in his Russia-related investigation—pled guilty to lying to the FBI about his December 2016 conversation with Russian ambassador Sergey I. Kislyak. Flynn accepted, inappropriately, tens of thousands of dollars from Russian interests.
5. George Papadopoulos
When George Papadopoulos (a foreign policy advisor on Trump’s 2016 campaign) flipped and agreed to cooperate with Mueller’s team, he pled guilty to having lied to investigators in their Russia-related probe—and Mueller has recommended a six-month prison sentence, which the former FBI director considers lenient in light of the circumstances. Mueller’s office has asserted that Papadopoulos lied about “critical facts in an investigation of national importance after having been explicitly warned that lying to the FBI was a federal offense.”
6. Omarosa Manigault Newman
Omarosa Manigault Newman, who became famous for her interactions with Trump on the hit reality show “The Apprentice” and went on to become part of his presidential administration in 2017, hasn’t flipped on Trump to the degree that Cohen has and wasn’t involved with the president on that level. However, Newman said she has been interviewed by Mueller, and with the publication of her new book, “Unhinged,” Newman has clearly gone from Trump apologist to outspoken Trump critic. And Newman is alleging that Trump used racial slursrepeatedly when he was on “The Apprentice,” including frequent use of the n-word.
7. Allen Weisselberg
NBC News is reporting that federal prosecutors have agreed to grant Allen Weisselberg, long-time chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, immunity from prosecution as part of their investigation into Cohen’s activities. Weisselberg, in a legal document pertaining to the case, is referred to as “Executive-1” and is given instructions to reimburse Cohen for one of the payments made. Trump has known Weisselberg for decades: in addition to overseeing the Trump Organization’s finances, Weisselberg has been involved in the Trump Foundation.