Prior to the 2016 presidential election, then-candidate Donald Trump and his former personal attorney, Michael D. Cohen, planned to buy all the scandalous stories the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on the real estate mogul over the years.
The New York Times reported that the plan came to light after Trump's longtime friend and CEO of American Media Inc., David Pecker, was granted immunity by federal prosecutors in exchange for information on Trump and Cohen silencing the pair of women with whom Trump allegedly had sexual affairs.
According to the Times, the arrangement was never finalized and "has not been reported before."
The plan was implied, however, during a recorded conversation between Cohen and Trump that Cohen's lawyer released last month.
@nytimes What a surprise! Said no one.— Chill Junkie (@Chill Junkie)1535627065.0
In the conversation, Cohen tells Trump, "It's all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know."
It remains unclear just how much damaging information on the President remains in possession of American Media. Key associates who were aware of the discussion wished to remain anonymous.
@nytimes That safe at The Enquirer must be big!— Anne Thorpe (@Anne Thorpe)1535628345.0
Adult film star Stephanie Gregory Clifford, whose professional moniker is Stormy Daniels, claimed to have had an affair with Trump in 2006, and former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal said she had a year-long affair with Trump between 2006 and 2007.
Trump denied both claims but Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges — including paying off the women in hush money.
@nytimes Must've been some pretty bad, and/or skanky stuff, to make him want to buy it all. I hope it all leaks 🤣🤣🤣— WMR 🦈🇨🇦🐱 (@WMR 🦈🇨🇦🐱)1535627104.0
Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 after she signed a non-disclosure agreement before the 2016 election.
The Wall Street Journal reported that the American Media company bought the exclusive rights to McDougal's story in August 2016 in return for $150,000 and promised to promote "her career as a fitness specialist."
Her allegations about a relationship with Trump remained unpublished.
@CNN This is what rich people do with their money.— Paul (@Paul)1535649841.0
Pecker admitted to being a part of a "catch and kill" scheme in which he bought and buried McDougal's story.
Those privy to the discussions said the President and his lawyer were concerned about what would happen to the unpublished files if Pecker left American Media for Time Magazine, something he's reportedly talked about doing.
Trump told Cohen in the conversation, "Maybe he gets hit by a truck."
@nytimes "Maybe he gets hit by a truck", isn't that communicating threats? Does Don Con know that "The Godfather"… https://t.co/w1G1xFmJ9T— Winnie Robinson (@Winnie Robinson)1535627484.0
The recording also included Cohen saying, "I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info, regarding our friend David."
He also discussed purchasing the files from American Media with Allen Weisselberg, the Trump Organization's chief financial officer.
"I've spoken to Allen Weisselberg about how to set the whole thing up."
"We'll have to pay him something," he added, which CNN assumed referred to Pecker.
@CNN And he will get away with that as well. Who believes trump when he says ‘That never happened’ There is always… https://t.co/eUqxpzMzAF— Karen (@Karen)1535650223.0
People speculated about how much more dirt on Trump the National Enquirer has.
@nytimes https://t.co/QP4WzBIXPj— 🇺🇸 Paul ❤ love Trumps hate 🇬🇧 (@🇺🇸 Paul ❤ love Trumps hate 🇬🇧)1535629036.0
@nytimes That is a lot of dirt.— Charlotte Moran (@Charlotte Moran)1535633461.0
@nytimes Was that what filled all those dump trucks...surrounding Trump Tower on Election Night.— Jim Ellrod (@Jim Ellrod)1535629557.0
@CNN @realDonaldTrump how did that work out? Now all your dirty laundry will be visible for the world to see. Not t… https://t.co/gcLl7HnP2p— LovingMyKids (@LovingMyKids)1535648883.0
The anonymous associates said the files are mostly "older National Enquirer stories about Mr. Trump's marital woes and lawsuits; related story notes and lists of sensitive sources; some tips about alleged affairs; and minutia, like allegations of unscrupulous golfing."