Futures are tumbling on a report that Donald Trump was present at an August 2015 meeting to discuss hush money payments to shield him from potentially damaging allegations by two women.
According to court filings, Trump was present at the meeting with his former longtime personal attorney Michael Cohen, and David Pecker - chairman of The Enquirer parent company, American Media Inc. (AMI).
The plan involved Pecker flagging potentially negative stories about Trump's relationships with women, then purchasing the rights to the allegations with no intention to publish them in a practice known as "catch-and-kill," according to a non-prosecution agreement between AMI and Manhattan federal prosecutors made public Wednesday.
AMI paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000, who claimed to have had a 10-month-long extramarital affair with Trump beginning in 2006 - a payment which Federal prosecutors have amounted to an effort to influence the 2016 US election, and a campaign finance violation.
This week's court filing said that Cohen, Pecker and "one or more members of the campaign" met 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."
AMI has now admitted to "keep Cohen appraised" of negative reporting about Trump following the meeting.
The media company also helped facilitate a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels in the months leading up to the 2016 election.
While Pecker and AMI haven't been charged with any crimes - and are now cloaked in an immunity deal, Cohen pleaded guilty to the campaign finance violations and seven unrelated crimes. Cohen claimed in court that the hush money payments were made at Trump's direction.