This year is truly proving itself to be the era of "show me the receipts," but it looks like two familiar faces are taking it to the next level. According to reports from The New York Times, Donald Trump and Michael Cohen tried to buy stories from David Pecker, the man behind the National Enquirer. Elite Daily reached out to The White House, as well as a representative of Cohen and the National Enquirer's parent company, American Media, Inc. about reports of Trump and Cohen's alleged plan to buy these stories, but did not hear back in time for publication. The drama continues.
On Thursday, Aug. 30, new reports revealed that Donald Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen allegedly planned to buy incriminating stories about Trump from the National Enquirer. According to the Times, Cohen and Trump reportedly tried to buy decades worth of unpublished stories from the publication's CEO David Pecker, but never followed through. The stories, which date back to the 1980s, reportedly include tips involving alleged affairs, marriage problems, and more about Trump's personal life. The National Enquirer reportedly bought the alleged information on Trump through "catch and kill," which buys the rights to incriminating information about people.
Another day, another piece of drama for the Trump administration.
For those who aren't familiar with the name David Pecker, here's a quick rundown on the new player in this Trump-Cohen drama. Pecker serves as the CEO of American Media Inc., which publishes gossip magazines including the National Enquirer and Us Weekly. In June 2016, Pecker and the National Enquirer purchased the rights to Karen McDougal's story, who claimed she had an affair with Trump in 2006. Trump has consistently denied claims that any affair has taken place. Despite buying the story, the publication allegedly had no intention to publish the information. On Aug. 23, The Wall Street Journal reported that Pecker has reportedly been granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for information about Cohen's payments to McDougal. American Media, Inc. did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment at the time.
Reports that Cohen and Trump planned to purchase numerous stories from Pecker are new, but in July, CNN obtained a leaked tape that appeared to show the pair discussing their intention of buying McDougal's story about the alleged affair with Trump.
“I’ve spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up,” Cohen reportedly said on the alleged tape about Pecker. “We’ll have to pay him something.”
In addition to Pecker's reported immunity, Cohen pleaded guilty on Aug. 22 to eight counts of financial fraud, including five counts of of tax evasion, one count of false statements to financial institutions, one count of cause of unlawful corporate contribution, and one count of excessive campaign contribution. This is obviously bad news as is, but the day only got worse for Trump when Cohen admitted to paying McDougal at the "direction of the candidate," which might implicate Trump. The White House did not respond to Elite Daily's request for comment on Cohen's claims.
In a statement shared with Elite Daily on Aug. 22, Cohen's lawyer Lanny Davis addressed Cohen's plea deal by saying it was "telling the truth" about Trump. It says,
Michael Cohen took this step today so that his family can move on to the next chapter. This is Michael fulfilling his promise made on July 2nd to put his family and country first and tell the truth about Donald Trump. Today he stood up and testified under oath that Donald Trump directed him to commit a crime by making payments to two women for the principal purpose of influencing an election. If those payments were a crime for Michael Cohen, then why wouldn't they be a crime for Donald Trump?
Although Cohen and Trump might have been thick as thieves at one point, it looks like those days of making plans together are over.