The incestuous relationship between the President of the United States and the country’s premier gossip tabloid took another weird turn this week, with a report claiming that Donald Trump and Michael Cohen came up with a scheme to buy back decades worth of dirt the National Enquirer had gathered on the president.
According to the New York Times on Thursday, Trump and his longtime attorney-turned-federal stool pigeon Michael Cohen hatched a plan in 2016 to purchase the Enquirer’s cache of Trump-related gossip. The Associated Press reported last week that Enquirer boss David Pecker kept the incriminating documents in a safe, although the condition and location of the items is currently unknown. The plan, however, ultimately never materialized, according to the Times.
Under Pecker’s leadership, the Enquirer became a virtual clearing house—and graveyard—for all sorts of Trump gossip, for which the publication would purchase the exclusive rights, and then sit on the story, essentially killing it for good. The Enquirer even went so far as to ostensibly give Cohen editorial veto power over all Trump-related pieces.
Some of the more scandalous stories the Enquirer had kept under wraps on Trump’s behalf have already become common knowledge, including hush money payments made to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal in exchange for their silence about alleged extramarital affairs with the president.
While Trump’s plan to buy back the documents—purportedly full of evidence of extramarital affairs, lawsuits, and other salacious misdeeds—ultimately never materialized, it shows just how worried the president was that the Enquirer’s mountain of dirt could damage him if it ever was made public.
In audio secretly taped by Cohen, he and the president can be heard strongly hinting at the bulk purchase plans. “I need to open up a company for the transfer of all of that info, regarding our friend David [Pecker]” Cohen says at one point, according to the Times.
It is unclear whether, and to what degree, this latest development in the Trump-Enquirer saga will have an impact on any criminal investigations prompted by Michael Cohen’s guilty plea, in which he implicated Trump as being directly responsible for ordering an FEC violation. However, the fact that David Pecker was recently granted immunity by prosecutors as part of the ongoing Cohen investigation should give the president plenty of reason to worry.