President Trump has dismissed payouts to an adult film star and a Playboy model right before the 2016 election as a “simple private transaction.”
But the media company — run by a longtime Trump friend — that made one of those payoffs has contradicted that.
The whole point was to help sway the vote and get Trump elected, the company has admitted to federal prosecutors in New York.
American Media Inc., the owner of the National Enquirer, is cooperating with the investigation after working with Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen to execute a $150,000 payout to one of the women, the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York said in a statement Wednesday. AMI in August 2016 bought rights to Karen McDougal’s story of an affair with Trump but never published anything, in a practice known in the business as “catch and kill.”
Prosecutors have said the criminal scheme was executed “in coordination with and at the direction of Individual-1” — as in, Donald Trump.
Prosecutors have agreed not to prosecute the company, known as AMI, so long as it continues to cooperate.
“As a part of the agreement, AMI admitted that it made the $150,000 payment in concert with a candidate’s presidential campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election,” the statement said. “AMI further admitted that its principal purpose in making the payment was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”
That statement by prosecutors came moments after Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to nine felonies, including charges related to orchestrating the hush-money payments.
Cover image: This July 12, 2017, file photo shows the cover of an issue of the National Enquirer featuring President Donald Trump at a store in New York. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer, File)