National Enquirer Publisher Admits To Trump Hush-Money Scheme Hours After Cohen Sentenced

Hours after former Trump attorney Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison for various crimes, the parent company of the National Enquirer, American Media Inc. (AMI), admitted responsibility for its role in a $150,000 "catch-and-kill" hush money payment to a former Playboy Playmate who alleged that she had an affair with Donald Trump in 2006, reports Bloomberg

Under a non-prosecution agreement, AMI admitted that it refused to publish Karen McDougal's claim "and prevent it from influencing the electionafter she agreed to a contract negotiated by Cohen, according to a now-settled lawsuit McDougal filed in March against AMI in Los Angeles Superior Court. 

As the Wall Street Journal reported in November, 2016;

The tabloid-newspaper publisher reached an agreement in early August with Karen McDougal, the 1998 Playmate of the Year. American Media Inc., which owns the Enquirer, hasn’t published anything about what she has told friends was a consensual romantic relationship she had with Mr. Trump in 2006. At the time, Mr. Trump was married to his current wife, Melania.

Quashing stories that way is known in the tabloid world as “catch and kill.” -WSJ

In a written statement, American Media Inc. claims it wasn't buying McDougal's story for $150,000 - rather, they were buying two years' worth of her fitness columns, magazine covers and exclusive life rights to any relationship she has had with a then-married man. "AMI has not paid people to kill damaging stories about Mr. Trump," read the statement.

Looks like they've walked that back, bigly.

According to AMI's cooperation agreement, Cohen and another campaign official met with AMI Chairman and longtime Trump friend David Pecker about the payment around August 2015. 

David thought Donald walked on water,” an ex-Enquirer employee told the New Yorker in July 2017, adding that Pecker had been using Trump’s private plane for trips to Florida. “Donald treated David like a little puppy. Donald liked being flattered, and David thought Donald was the king.Both have similar management styles, similar attitudes, starting with absolute superiority over anybody else.”

Gus Wenner, head of Wenner Media's digital operations, which recently sold US Weekly and Men's Health titles to American Media, told the New Yorker: “He was painting Donald as extremely loyal to him, and he had no issue being loyal in return. He told me very bluntly that he had killed all sorts of stories for Trump. He hired a girl to be a columnist when she threatened to go public with a story about Donald." -Newsweek

"As a part of the agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election," prosecutors wrote in the deal.