Donald Trump was deeply involved orchestrating payoffs to his mistresses in the run-up to the 2016 election with longtime crony and National Enquirer owner David Pecker, according to a new bombshell report.
Trump denied for almost two years any involvement in the payoffs, but Trump was actually “involved in or briefed on nearly every step of the agreements,” according to The Wall Street Journal.
“He directed deals in phone calls and meetings with his self-described fixer, Michael Cohen, and others. The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan has gathered evidence of Mr. Trump’s participation in the transactions,” according to the paper.
The payments appear to directly violate federal campaign finance laws.
The collusion to silence adult film actress Stormy Daniels, aka Stephanie Clifford and Playboy model Karen McDougall began at a meeting between the two moguls at Trump’s 26th Floor Trump Tower office in Aug. 2015, the paper reports.
The Journal story is hidden online behind a subscription paywall, but IM has pieced together the key elements of the story from various sources.
Although the weekly tabloid National Enquirer is known for breaking sensational stories, such as golfer Tiger Woods’ affair with a New York party girl, the publication has reported on scandals selectively to protect Pecker’s friends.
During the Trump Tower meeting, Pecker, CEO of Enquirer owner American Media Inc. agreed to use the tabloid to silence women who has sexual encounters with Trump over the years by using a trick known as “catch and kill.”
In a CNN interview earlier this year, McDougal said her affair with Trump began at a Lake Tahoe golf tournament in 2006. While Trump was professing his love for her, he also allegedly bedded porn star Daniels, and pestered McDougal to set up a three-some.
They met a minimum of five times a month over the course of the 10-month affair and had sex “many dozens of times,” she said. Trump’s wife, Melania, now First Lady, had just given birth to son Barron, when he began the affair.
McDougal’s 10-month relationship with the president leaked in May 2016. Another Playboy playmate spilled the beans on Twitter, touching off a media frenzy.
During the 2016 campaign, the former Playboy bunny sold the exclusive rights to her story to American Media for $150,000. It included a confidentiality agreement preventing her from talking to anyone else. But the publication never ran the story.
Pecker quashed the story at Trump’s request, according to The Journal, which interviewed more than three dozen people and examined court records and internal corporate documents. Trump later thanked him for killing the story.
Trump’s former lawyer and reputed fixer was singled out along with Trump—without specifically naming him—in an 80-page federal indictment against Cohen.
The Trump Organization lawyer pleaded guilty in August to campaign-finance violations and turned state’s evidence. He’s scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 12.
In the 22-page charging document filed with the plea, Cohen acknowledged he “coordinated with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments.”
That led to widespread reports that Trump was an un-indicted co-conspirator, and sources have since confirmed that he was the unnamed person in the document, the paper reported.
It’s been previously disclosed that Cohen told prosecutors he discussed payments to silence Clifford and was directed by the president to “get it done.” A recording of at least one conversation was made public by Cohen’s defense lawyer Lanny Davis.
Cohen was the go-between when McDougal let it be known, through attorney Keith Davidson, that she wanted to tell her story. Six months before the election, Davidson contacted Dylan Howard, American Media’s chief content officer in New York, to test the company’s interest in McDougal’s story.
By then, Trump had long been known as an F.O.P, aka “Friend of Pecker,” which barred the publication from running negative stories about him.
Pecker and Howard immediately called Cohen, who warned Trump, who called Pecker asking him to kill the story. Howard personally handled the interview and kept Cohen and Trump informed.
When American Media learned McDougal was also talking to ABCNews, McDougal was offered $150,000 for the story, according to The Journal
Pecker was apparently well-aware his company was treading on a possible campaign finance law violation. He reportedlt researched the issue. Corporations are barred under federal law from giving directly to candidates, either in cash or in-kind contributions, according to The Journal.
Cohen assured Pecker that Trump would reimburse the publisher, and they began to devise a repayment plan. But Pecker called off the deal in October 2016 on the advice of his lawyer. Federal agents found a copy of the agreement in Cohen’s office during a search.
Pecker reportedly kept secret files on celebrities, including Trump, and Cohen also began negotiations to obtain Trump’s files, as well.
Trump is up to his legal eyeballs in porn stars, playmates and angry women who say he groped, harassed or assaulted them. No other president in history has faced such an onslaught of sexual misconduct charges.
Summer Zervos, a former “Apprentice” contestant scored a breakthrough in her defamation lawsuit against Trump in March. A New York court ruled that her case can move forward.
That allows her lawyers, Mariann Meier Wang and Gloria Allred, to depose the president and others about allegations Trump forcibly kissed and groped her.
Zervos is the only one of the three who was allegedly assaulted.
Trump allegedly kissed her against her will when she visited him at Trump Tower in December 2007, after she had left his show.
He also allegedly kissed her, groped her breast and “began to press his genitals against her” when they met for dinner later that month in a bungalow at the Beverly Hills Hotel, according to The Washington Post.
She’s suing because Trump called her a liar and a phony after she went public in Oct. 2016.