A new report claims President Donald Trump wanted to buy decades of dirt on him collected by the National Enquirer tabloid and its parent company American Media Inc.
According to a New York Times report, the President and his former personal lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen sought to purchase potentially damaging stories about Trump dating back to the 1980s and had devised a plan to do so, even though it was never finalized.
This is the first report of the plan that was hinted at in last month’s recording released by Cohen in which the two men talk about payoffs that Cohen had with Trump.
“It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know,” Mr. Cohen said on the recording.
American Media’s chairman David Pecker has recently cooperated with investigators who have provided him with partial immunity as he is a key witness in their inquiry into payments made on behalf of President Trump during the 2016 campaign.
Namely, Cohen pleaded guilty last week to paying hush money to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford and Playboy model Karen McDougal on behalf of Trump in an effort to save his candidacy. The discussed purchase of American Media’s broader cache of Trump information appears to have been part of the same effort.
It is unclear for now how much of the material on President Trump American Media still possesses or if they have destroyed some of it. It is also not known whether prosecutors have obtained some of that material.
Pecker, who is a long-time Trump ally, had reportedly ordered his staff at American Media to protect Trump from troublesome stories, in some cases by buying up stories about him and filing them away. Cohen also said as part of his guilty plea that Pecker too worked with him and Trump to buy and bury McDougal’s story of her alleged affair with Trump, a practice known as “catch and kill.”
In August 2016, American Media acquired the rights to McDougal’s story in return for $150,000 and commitments to use its magazines to promote her career as a fitness specialist.
But due to rumors that Pecker may leave his post as chairman of American Media, Cohen and Trump began to worry what would happen to such sensitive information which they later sought to buy off, several people familiar with the discussions said.