Prosecutors in New York revealed Wednesday that they reached a “non-prosecution agreement” with American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, over a $150,000 payment made to a woman who claimed she had an affair with President Donald Trump.
“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,” prosecutors revealed in a Department of Justice press release following the sentencing of Michael Cohen, the former Trump attorney who helped orchestrate the payoff.
As has been reported, Cohen negotiated with AMI executives during the 2016 presidential campaign to pay $150,000 to Karen McDougal, a Playboy playmate who claims she had an affair with Trump.
Cohen was sentenced Wednesday to three years in prison for tax evasion, bank fraud and making illegal campaign contributions related a payment made to another alleged Trump mistress: Stormy Daniels.
The former Trump fixer pleaded guilty to the charges on Aug. 21. The illegal campaign contribution charge was for a $130,000 payment that Cohen made in October 2016 to Daniels, a porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006.
Cohen acknowledged that he made the payment to Daniels through a shell company, and that he orchestrated the scheme on the instruction of Trump.
Trump downplayed the Daniels payment in an interview Tuesday with Reuters.
“Number one, it wasn’t a campaign contribution,” Trump said. “If it were, it’s only civil, and even if it’s only civil, there was no violation based on what we did. OK?”
Cohen did not pay off McDougal, as he did with Daniels, though he did set up a shell company after discussing the matter with AMI executives, including its chairman, David Pecker.
Pecker reportedly received immunity in discussions with prosecutors investigating the McDougal payment.
Prosecutors revealed Wednesday that AMI admitted that the “principal purpose” in making the payment to McDougal “was to suppress the woman’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election.”
Prosecutors acknowledged AMI’s “substantial and important assistance” in its investigation.
Prosecutors said in a court filing on Dec. 7 that Pecker met with Cohen and Trump in August 2014 and “offered to help deal with negative stories about [Trump’s] relationships with women by identifying such stories so that they could be purchased and ‘killed.’”
After an editor at National Enquirer contacted Pecker and told him about McDougal’s story and then contacted Cohen to inform him about an offer to purchase her story for $150,000.
“At Cohen’s urging and with his promise that Corporation-1 would be reimbursed, Editor-1 began negotiating the purchase of Woman-1’s story,” reads the memo.
AMI entered an agreement with McDougal on Aug. 5, 2016.
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