The hits just kept coming for President Donald Trump on Wednesday.
First his longtime attorney, fixer, and confidante Michael Cohen was sentenced to three years behind bars for a host of financial crimes—some of which, he claimed, were conducted on behalf of a certain “Individual 1" whose name rhymes with “Bonald Bump.”
But buried in the FBI’s press release announcing Cohen’s sentence was this nugget of perhaps equal significance to the Cohen news itself (emphasis mine):
The Office also announced today that it has previously reached a non-prosecution agreement with AMI, in connection with AMI’s role in making the above-described $150,000 payment before the 2016 presidential election. 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. 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.
The “AMI” here is “American Media, INC.”—parent company to The National Enquirer, the notoriously Trump-friendly publication which had been accused of frequently engaging in “catch and kill” journalism (if you wanna call it that), wherein it would obtain the exclusive rights to a particularly juicy story about, say, Donald Trump, and then sit on it so the potentially damaging info would never see the light of day.
What’s new here (at least, new to us; the FBI’s AMI agreement is actually dated this past September) is that the company has now admitted that it withheld a scoop—specifically, that Trump had had an affair with former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal—that would have hurt Trump in order to “prevent [the story] from influencing the election.” What’s more, AMI admitted, they did so “in concert” with the Trump campaign team.
In addition to being pretty bad in and of itself, AMI’s agreement with the FBI is a direct rebuttal to Trump’s earlier claims that he had no idea about any payments to McDougal or Daniels in the first place, and later that, OK, maybe there were payments, but they weren’t a part of the campaign, at least!
In some ways, the FBI’s announcement shouldn’t be a complete surprise. In August, federal prosecutors granted AMI chair David Pecker immunity for his cooperation in their investigations into Trump’s hush money payments. And as the FBI made clear in its press release, AMI’s agreement means that, in exchange for not being prosecuted, the company will “provide cooperation in the future and implement specific improvements to its internal compliance to prevent future violations of the federal campaign finance laws.”
Trump’s bad day? It may have just gotten a whole lot worse.