Back in June, Fox New reported that federal authorities had subpoenaed American Media, publisher of the National Enquirer, for records related to its $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story alleging an affair with Trump. The payment was part of a catch-and-kill scheme to bury her story in advance of the 2016 election.
Pecker was granted immunity in the investigation of Cohen’s dealings in that catch-and-kill scheme as well as the hush-money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels, who also claims she had an affair with Trump. Pecker met with prosecutors to describe Cohen’s involvement in the hush money schemes brokered ahead of the 2016 election, the Wall Street Journal reported today.
Cohen plead guilty to campaign finance violations, saying that, at the direction of now-President Trump, he arranged to pay the hush money to Daniels, and coordinated the National Enquirer‘s catch-and-kill scheme re McDougal. Cohen said he did both to influence the election. Both women’s stories were squashed shortly before the election.
Pecker played a pivotal role in the catch-and-kill scheme; information he gave prosecutors was instrumental in reeling in Cohen, according to press reports.
In a pre-taped interview that aired on Fox & Friends this morning, Trump insisted Cohen’s payment to Daniels and deal-wrangling re McDougal are not crimes because he paid the money himself and did not take it from campaign funds.
In audiotape released by Cohen earlier, he and Trump are heard talking about Cohen needing to “open up a company for the transfer of all that information regarding out friend David.”