American Media, Inc. and the National Enquirer shredded sensitive Donald Trump-related documents that had been held in a top-secret safe right before Trump was elected in 2016, according to fresh allegations made in a new book by journalist Ronan Farrow.
During the first week of November 2016, the book alleges that Dylan Howard, who was then editor in chief of the National Enquirer, ordered a staff member to “get everything out of the safe” and that “we need to get a shredder down there.”
His order came the same day a reporter for the Wall Street Journal had called the Enquirer to ask for comment on a story about how AMI, which owns the supermarket tabloid, had paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal who said she had had an affair with Trump to keep her quiet right before the election. The Enquirer never published her story.
Farrow quotes one former Enquirer journalist, Jerry George, who estimates that Pecker “killed perhaps ten fully reported stories about Trump, and nixed many more potential leads during George’s twenty-eight years at the Enquirer.”
Late last year, AMI admitted its hush money payment to McDougal, which it said it had done to prevent her story from “influencing the election.” In an agreement with federal prosecutors that said AMI would not get charged for its role in the scheme, the company said it would cooperate with authorities.
The agreement showed that Pecker held a meeting with Cohen and at least one other member of the campaign in August 2015, during which Pecker “offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided.” He also agreed to keep Cohen updated on any negative stories.
A month before the 2016 election, an agent for pornographic actress Stormy Daniels told Howard that she was threatening to speak publicly about her alleged affair with Trump. That led Pecker and Howard to tell Cohen about Daniels; he then negotiated a deal to pay her $130,000 in exchange for her silence. Cohen is serving a three-year jail sentence for campaign finance violations related to his role in the scheme.
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