The full story of U.S. President Donald Trump’s rise to power continues to become clear — it’s certainly not as though Trump himself has endeavored to make much clear in the first place. This week, his former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to charges of illegal activity during that rise to power, and now, there’s more detail available about the context of those crimes.
The Associated Press is reporting that American Media, Inc. — Cohen’s ally in his criminal work — stored documents and records relating to the activities in a safe. The safe granted AMI some leverage over the Trump team, sources share with AP.
Cohen and AMI head David Pecker worked to bury stories that could paint Donald Trump in a bad light, no matter the cost — literally. Cohen personally facilitated a $130,000 hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels covering an affair she had with the man who is now president. In addition, AMI bought up former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story of an affair with Trump, paying her $150,000 for it. They indicated to her that they were going to run the story, but never did — it was a catch and kill deal.
Both of those payments were campaign finance law violations that Cohen is now facing multiple years in jail for. In the process of his guilty plea, he implicated the president, insisting that he — and Pecker — worked at his direction. Pecker cooperated with Cohen throughout his work to kill damaging Trump stories, advising on what tales were worthy candidates for targeting.
Thursday, reports circulated that prosecutors in the Cohen case had granted Pecker immunity in exchange for information he had about the whole ordeal. He’s said to have confirmed Cohen’s account of working at Trump’s direction and to have provided authorities with practical details of the arrangement.
The report that he maintained a safe with documents relevant to the deals certainly confirms that Pecker has a significant stake in the situation. According to the Associated Press, AMI ditched their documents about the Karen McDougal payment shortly before Trump’s inauguration in early 2017. The company was concerned that the paperwork could come back to haunt them because of media reports about their purchase of McDougal’s story.
The Associated Press shares that it’s “unclear whether the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to a location known to fewer people” — but considering Pecker’s cooperation with authorities, prosecutors might know.
Pecker had been working with Cohen and Trump for years before the 2016 election cycle formally rolled around. Cohen, for instance, got the National Enquirer to promote a potential Trump presidency as early on as 2010 and echo Trump’s questioning of where then-President Barack Obama was actually born.
The safe in question persists outside of the realm of Pecker’s direct relationship with Trump World. The publication struck “catch and kill” deals with other celebrities, too. The arrangement could pose continued legal problems for AMI — and it’s ironic that yet another actually questionable news source is on President Fake News’ side of the aisle, not in the mainstream.
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