Now that American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, has entered into a non-prosecution deal with federal prosecutors, it is likely that special counsel Robert Mueller has access to myriad documents related to President Donald Trump — potentially including those stashed in a secret safe by AMI’s chief executive.
As part of the agreement, AMI admitted to making a payment of $150,000 in cooperation with members of Trump's presidential campaign in order to prevent former Playboy model Karen McDougal's claims of an affair with Trump from being made public during the 2016 race.
AMI chairman David Pecker is a longtime friend of Trump's, and the Enquirer was one of Trump's most reliable and enthusiastic media boosters during the campaign.
Pecker and Cohen met in August of 2015, along with "at least one other member of the campaign", to discuss potential negative stories that could come out during election season, according to the non-prosecution agreement.
"At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided," the agreement read. "Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories."
AMI ended up purchasing the story of former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who claimed she had an affair with Trump, in what industry insiders term “catch and kill” — they had no intention of running the story.
McDougal was paid $150,000, granting AMI "exclusive ownership of her account of any romantic, personal, or physical relationship she has ever had with any 'then-married man,'" according to report by The New Yorker earlier this year.
AMI denied for months that it had coordinated with the Trump campaign to buy McDougal’s silence, in an effort to keep her story from adversely impacting Trump’s bid for the presidency.