Trump Is Said to Have Been at Enquirer Hush-Money Meeting

Cheryl Sanders
December 14, 2018

AMI's admission could bolster any case prosecutors make against Trump for violating campaign finance law, in that the publisher is acknowledging that the payments were made to hide embarrassing information from voters.

McDougal has said she had a months-long sexual affair with Trump years before he took office, and that she sold her story for US$150,000 to AMI but it was never published. The practice of acquiring stories and not running them, common in the tabloid industry, is known as "catch and kill". The agreement also acknowledges, among other things, AMI's acceptance of responsibility, its substantial and important assistance in this investigation, and its agreement to provide cooperation in the future and implement specific improvements to its internal compliance to prevent future violations of the federal campaign finance laws.

According to federal prosecutors, AMI paid US$150,000 (RM627,000) to a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, who was going to go public during the election campaign with her claim to have had an affair with Trump.

A spokesperson for AMI declined to comment. "When you have both people saying that it was to influence the election, and that they knew that and that they coordinated with the campaign, that gets you very far".

"You now have a second defendant or group of defendants saying that these payments were made for the primary goal of influencing the election, and that it was done in co-ordination with Trump and his campaign", said Rick Hasen, an election law expert at the University of California, Irvine.

AMI's chief executive officer David Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump and Cohen, had met with prosecutors to describe their hush-money deals with McDougal and Daniels ahead of the 2016 election won by Trump, the Wall Street Journal reported in August.

"One, AMI just points the finger at Trump, and Trump is now connected to the Karen McDougal payment, in addition to Michael Cohen connecting him to the Stormy Daniels payment".

Trump's presence at the discussion potentially undercuts his defense that the payments were a private matter unrelated to the campaign as well as his position that he didn't knowingly and willingly violate campaign finance laws, according to Levinson.

Trump has denied the affairs and argues the payments to the two women were not campaign contributions.

The Wall Street Journal reported in August that Pecker had himself been granted immunity by USA authorities in return for testifying about what he knew about Trump, Cohen and the payments.

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