Donald Trump and his then-personal attorney Michael Cohen hatched a scheme to buy every ounce of dirt the National Enquirer had on Trump in an effort to keep it from coming to light in the presidential campaign.
The stories varied from the serious – allegations of extra marital affairs – to the sillier – reports Trump cheated at golf.
The files on Trump went back to the 1980s when the business mogul was a fixture on the New York tabloid scene, The New York Times reported.
The National Enquirer reportedly had stories hidden on Donald Trump that included allegations he cheated at golf
National Enquirer CEO David Pecker is a strong Trump ally
Their plot never came to fruition but the two men had hinted to the plan to purchase America Media’s archives on Trump in a recording of their conversation played on CNN this year.
‘It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know,’ Cohen said on the recording.
The stories on Trump are said to include details about his marital problems and lawsuits, talk about alleged affairs, and allegations of unscrupulous golfing.
David Pecker, the chairman of American Media, is a Trump ally who took part in the ‘catch and kill’ plan to bury the story of former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, who claimed she had an affair with the president, which Trump has denied.
The National Enquirer gave McDougal $150,000 for her story and then never ran it.
Pecker has received at least a partial immunity deal from federal prosecutors who are investigating the payment to McDougal and a separate $130,000 payment Cohen made to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Trump and Cohen were concerned what would happen to the information on him should Pecker ever leave the company.
‘You never know where that company — you never know what he’s gonna be —’ Cohen says on the record.
‘David gets hit by a truck,’ Trump said.
‘Correct,’ Cohen replied. ‘So, I’m all over that.’
It’s unclear if prosecutors are interested in Trump and Cohen’s plan to purchase all the dirt the tabloid had gathered on the president for the past 40 years.
Donald Trump and Michael Cohen were worried what would happen to the information on Trump if David Pecker left American Media
Michael Cohen and Trump discussed the plan on a recording played on CNN
American Media CEO David Pecker – seen here at a party in Paris in January 2012 with Leslie Coutterand – has an immunity deal with prosecutors
It’s also unclear how much the archive would have cost and how much information is in the safe at America Media.
There are also concerns some of it may have been destroyed.
After The Wall Street Journal initially published the first details of McDougal’s deal with tabloid, those information became a liability. Fearful that the documents might be used against American Media, Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, removed them from the safe where Pecker stored sensitive information on Trump and celebrities, the Associated Press reported.
It was unclear whether the documents were destroyed or simply were moved to another location.
For the last two decades, Pecker ordered staff at the company to protect Trump, The Times reported, which included buying stories about him and filing them away.
During the presidential campaign, he prevented staff from going through the Trump archive for story material, meaning the National Enquirer – which broke the story of former presidential candidate John Edwards’ affair with Rielle Hunter during the 2008 campaign – played no similar vetting role in the 2016 election.
Cohen pleaded guilty last week to eight federal counts, including campaign finance violations.