Media & Communications Law
Posted December 12, 2018, 5:01 pm CST
The parent company of the National Enquirer has admitted it made a $150,000 payment to a woman in concert with the Trump campaign to buy her silence about damaging allegations and influence the election.
Prosecutors revealed the admission by American Media Inc. in a Department of Justice press release on Wednesday, report the New York Times, the Hill, the Hollywood Reporter, Bloomberg and the Wall Street Journal.
The announcement did not name the woman who received the money, but previous coverage identified her as former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who has alleged an affair with President Donald Trump.
The admission is part of a nonprosecution agreement acknowledging the company has provided “substantial and important assistance,” and that it agreed to continue cooperation.
A statement of facts says AMI chairman David Pecker met with Trump lawyer Michael Cohen and at least one other member of the campaign in August 2015. At the meeting, Pecker offered to identify negative stories about the candidate’s relationships with women, “so they could be purchased and their publication avoided,” the factual statement says.
Pecker bought the rights to the woman’s story of any relationships with then-married men in August 2016, without any intent to publish it, according to the factual statement. The company agreed to pay the money after receiving assurances from Cohen that the company would be reimbursed, the statement says.
Pecker later agreed to assign the rights to McDougal’s story to Cohen in exchange for $125,000, but he called off the deal in October 2016, the statement says.
Prosecutors revealed the agreement in a press release announcing Cohen’s three-year sentence on Wednesday for tax evasion, bank fraud, false statements and campaign finance violations. Cohen admitted involvement in the AMI payment as well as a payment to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, another woman who accused Trump of an affair.
AMI’s general counsel for media, Cameron Stracher, ended his relationship with company last month, according to Corporate Counsel and Folio magazine. Taking his place is Jon Fine, a former lawyer for NBC and Amazon.com, who will be in a new position called deputy general counsel for media.
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