Agreeing to cooperate with prosecutors is happening quite a lot among those in President Trump’s circle, and now that includes American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, whose publisher, David Pecker, is a Trump supporter. The company has also admitted to the “catch and kill” of Karen McDougal’s story about an alleged affair with Donald Trump, where the company paid McDougal $150,000, funds routed through Michael Cohen and related to one of the two campaign finance violations to which Cohen pled guilty, for exclusive rights to her story, but then essentially silenced it by not publishing the story. American Media Inc. (AMI) admitted that it made the payment “in concert with” Trump’s 2016 campaign, according to a Department of Justice statement reported on by The Hill, and specifically said it did so “in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.”
The outright admission that the company sought to benefit the Trump campaign may come as something as a surprise to many, but what that admission, along with vowing to cooperate with prosecutors, gained the company was freedom from being charged with a crime as a result of this payment. Interestingly, this news comes on the same day as Michael Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in prison for the multiple charges to which he pleaded guilty. According to The Hill:
American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, has agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors in New York, the Department of Justice announced in a statement on Wednesday. AMI admitted that it paid $150,000 to a woman “in concert with” President Trump‘s campaign “in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.”…The National Enquirer purchased the rights to McDougal’s story “to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election” according to prosecutors, who did not refer to McDougal by name. Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty in August to facilitating a $150,000 payment at the same time as the National Enquirer payment, in violation of campaign finance laws. Earlier this month, federal prosecutors said that this payment, and a separate one to another woman alleging an affair with Trump, was made “in coordination with and at the direction of” Trump…Because of their cooperation, AMI will not be prosecuted for its role in the payment.
AMI pledged to provide ongoing cooperation with prosecutors in the future and also agreed to give its employees “written standards regarding federal election laws”, according to The Hill, which suggests that the company will not be given a pass on prosecution a second time if it is found to have been involved in similar payments or unlawful involvement with political campaigns in the future. The National Enquirer admitted, as indicated above, that it was actively working to help Trump’s campaign in a way that may have violated federal election laws. Given their admission to prosecutors and their pledge to cooperate with prosecutors going forward, it seems likely that they will be extremely wary of such involvement in helping Trump in the future.