There’s nothing safe about the National Enquirer‘s Donald Trump vault and he knows it, several of the president’s “associates” told the New York Times on Thursday.
After it was reported that Enquirer CEO David Pecker and Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg were granted immunity deals as part of the Southern District of New York’s Michael Cohen probe, the detail emerged that the Enquirer had a vault full of blackmail material.
NEW YORK (AP) — The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and other damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement told The AP.
— Ken Thomas (@KThomasDC) August 23, 2018
Well, if the New York Times’ latest scoop is to be believed, Trump was keenly aware that the Enquirer had stuff on him going back almost four decades.
The Times said, citing Trump associates, that Trump and Cohen hatched a plan to purchase “dirt” going back to the ’80s.
“It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know,” Cohen could be heard saying on a recording that’s already received attention. It’s the bit about “all the stuff” that’s new in light of this report. It was previously assumed that “all the stuff” was limited to payoffs of Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal before the 2016 election, but the Times story more than suggests that they wanted to buy all of the Enquirer‘s dirt to avoid blackmail down the road.
The people who came forward with this news were not identified by name, but they are “the potential subject of a federal investigation.”
Trump, Cohen and American Media Inc (AMI), the parent company of the Enquirer, stayed mum on the report.
The hilarious thing about all of this is that David Pecker, who Trump has in the past recommended to lead Time Magazine back to prominence, reportedly stoked fears in both Cohen and Trump because it was rumored Pecker wanted to leave the Enquirer for Time.
.@TIME Magazine should definitely pick David Pecker to run things over there – he'd make it exciting and win awards!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 9, 2013
David Pecker would be a brilliant choice as CEO of TIME Magazine — nobody could bring it back like David! http://t.co/lLMjQh2iz9
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 19, 2013
The relevant lines from the Times:
Shortly after American Media completed the arrangement with Ms. McDougal at Mr. Trump’s behest, a troubling question began to nag at Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen, according to several people who knew about the discussions at the time: What would happen to America Media’s sensitive Trump files if Mr. Pecker were to leave the company?
Mr. Cohen, those people said, was hearing rumors that Mr. Pecker might leave American Media for Time magazine — a title Mr. Pecker is known to have dreams of running.
Cohen’s words on a recording — “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info, regarding our friend David” — are now being viewed in a new light. Cohen was no stranger to opening companies to facilitate payments — see, Essential Consultants, LLC — and CFO Weisselberg was the person who reportedly facilitated the McDougal payment.
Although these concerns were raised, no deal occurred and its not clear if the Enquirer is still in full possession of the “Trump Vault” materials or if these records have been destroyed.
The materials in question were described as “mostly older” stories about Trump’s marital breakdowns, tips about affairs, lawsuits, “lists of sensitive sources” and, most importantly (sarcasm), “allegations of unscrupulous golfing.”
[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]