Prosecutors Outline How National Enquirer Assisted Michael Cohen, Trump Campaign in Stifling Negative Stories
Michael Cohen's guilty plea on Tuesday also pointed to something that was a factor in coverage of Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign — namely the laudatory publicity he got from the National Enquirer. In indictment documents unsealed shortly after Cohen appeared at a New York federal court, prosecutors allege that the Enquirer and its parent company, American Media Inc., advised and assisted the Trump campaign in identifying potentially negative stories about the candidate. The publisher and the Enquirer have previously been identified in press accounts and court records related to payments to Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal, who claim to have had affairs with Trump. Those payments are the heart of the government’s claims that Cohen violated campaign finance laws. Cohen said in court that he was “directed” by Trump to do so.
Trevor Potter, the founder and president of the Campaign Legal Center and former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, said that the indictment poses legal issues for AMI. "Generally, the corporate parent of a news organization is not protected by the ‘press exemption,’ especially when acting outside their ‘press function,'” he said via email. “Here, Cohen says they entered into an agreement with Trump and his campaign to use corporate money to squelch information detrimental to Trump’s election. That presents a serious legal problem for AMI.”