The National Enquirer used to have documents in its safe related to damaging stories about President Trump that it never published, people familiar with the matter told The Associated Press Thursday.
American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker, who publishes the Enquirer, is one of Trump's longtime friends. On Tuesday, Trump's former personal lawyer Michael Cohen pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations, and said he had been directed by Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election to pay off two women who said they had affairs with him. Pecker, who reportedly has been granted immunity by federal prosecutors, also shared with prosecutors details of the payments Cohen made.
Right before the election, The Wall Street Journalpublished a story about Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she had an affair with Trump. The Journal reported that the Enquirer bought her story with the intention of never running it, in order to protect Trump. Former employees told AP that the Enquirer made these "catch-and-kill deals" with lots of people so they could gain the trust of celebrities and then ask them for favors down the road.