A new report says that Donald Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen, was allowed to review stories about Trump before the National Enquirer published them, sources told the Washington Post. The company that publishes the tabloid is now facing a subpoena in the investigation into Cohen’s campaign activities.
The investigation is also seeking records to determine if Cohen was connected to a payment by the tabloid’s parent company to another woman who came forward about an affair with Trump.
Cohen is already being investigated for possible campaign finance violations for paying off Stephanie Daniels to keep her story quiet, and the investigation hopes to uncover whether he used this connection to silence another story to protect the Trump Campaign.
WaPo reports that multiple sources disclosed the practice, on condition of anonymity due to concerns about retribution by Trump or publishing company American Media Inc., which publishes National Enquirer among other titles. They say the company’s chief executive, David Pecker, has a long relationship with Trump, and that this practice has been ongoing.
What influence might the tabloid have had? In the last week before the election alone, National Enquirer ran headlines accusing Hillary Clinton of being addicted to drugs, being connected to Satan worship with occult rituals, and of blackmail and plotting with Obama to be pardoned (despite not being charged with a crime, and despite the fact that if she was charged at that point, there wasn’t sufficient time before Obama would leave office to convict her, which would have to happen before a pardon — among others.
One-time Trump campaign adviser Sam Nunberg lauded the magazine as a means to convey the campaign’s message, better than a weekly mailer, and described the relationship with the magazine as part of Cohen’s job. WaPo quotes:
If you get something on the cover of the National Enquirer it’s a publication that people pay attention to in the grocery store. You are conveying a message, and it’s free media.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this week that a subpoena had been issued for American Media Inc., requiring the company to turn over records related to a $150k payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal in the final months before the election. Investigators hope to determine whether Michael Cohen coordinated with the company to quiet the model about her affair with Trump.
These payouts may be considered money given to or paid on behalf of the Trump campaign if a court rules that they were made to benefit the campaign, and if so, constitute payments that were not disclosed as required by campaign finance law.
People close to Michael Cohen have reportedly said he’s willing to flip on Donald Trump in order to save himself, so the discovery of further evidence for a possible case against Cohen could spell bad news for Trump.