President Donald Trump and his then-attorney, Michael Cohen, allegedly sought before the 2016 election to buy all the dirt that the National Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc. (AMI), had collected on him since the 1980s.

The Enquirer bought stories under a practice known as “catch and kill” and payed people for the rights of their story. Several former American Media staff members told The New York Times that at the very least, the material the company had on the president would have put The Enquirer in a position to dominate on coverage of Trump’s scandalous past.

The files on Trump, that were kept in a safe, were described as mostly older National Enquirer stories about his marital woes and lawsuits, related story notes and lists of sensitive sources, some tips about alleged affairs and allegations of unscrupulous golfing.

Cohen pleaded guilty last week to eight criminal counts, including tax fraud, false statements to a bank and campaign finance violations. He provided a secret recording in which the president appears to discuss a possible payment to buy the rights to Playboy model Karen McDougal‘s affair claim, “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info, regarding our friend David,” Cohen says in reference to David Pecker, the CEO of AMI. But Cohen indicates in the audio that he and Trump are speaking about an arrangement involving far more. “It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know.”


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Pecker, a longtime friend of the president, has already met with prosecutors and shared details about the payments that Cohen arranged to silence McDougal and adult film actress Stormy Daniels. Several former staff members told The Wall Street Journal that Pecker in 2016 prevented his staff from going through Trump materials that dated to before Pecker became AMI chairman in 1999.

According to The Times, it is not known how much of the material on Trump is still in American Media’s possession or whether American Media destroyed any of it after the campaign.

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