April 11, 2023


Sorry Doubters, But Bragg Was Right to Indict Trump (PHILIP ROTNER, APRIL 11, 2023, The Bulwark)

In August 2015, less than two months after he announced his candidacy, Trump held a meeting at his Trump Tower office in New York City with his then-lawyer Michael Cohen and David Pecker, the CEO of American Media, Inc. (AMI), owner and publisher of the supermarket tabloid the National Enquirer.

At the meeting, Pecker agreed "to help with [Trump's] campaign."

Pecker's role was to be on the lookout for negative stories about Trump and to alert Cohen and Trump to any such stories before they were published. Pecker has admitted in a non-prosecution agreement that, in furtherance of his agreement with Trump, he had AMI acquire exclusive rights to salacious stories about Trump in order to make sure they were not published "before the 2016 presidential election and thereby influence that election."

This was the so-called "catch-and-kill" scheme.

Pecker and Cohen worked together to catch and kill three stories that could harm Trump's bid for the presidency.

First, AMI made a payment of $30,000--to be reimbursed by Trump--to silence a Trump Tower doorman who claimed to have information about a child Trump allegedly fathered out of wedlock.

Next, around three months prior to the election, AMI made another payment of $150,000 to suppress a story from a Playboy model, Karen McDougal, in exchange for her agreement not to speak out about an alleged sexual relationship with Trump. In a conversation captured in an audio recording, Cohen and Trump discussed how to reimburse AMI for the hush money payment to McDougal. (So much for the "I had nothing to do with any of this, it was all just Michael Cohen and David Pecker acting on their own" defense.)

But it is the third catch-and-kill story--the one involving a payment of $130,000 to an adult film actress whose stage name is Stormy Daniels--that has captured most of the national press attention.

Pecker first learned about Stormy Daniels about a month before the presidential election, just days after news broke that Trump had been caught on tape making crude, demeaning, sexist remarks about women on the now-infamous Access Hollywood "grab 'em by the pussy" tape. The public revelation of this recording understandably threw the Trump campaign into a panic of concern that the tape would, as the statement of facts puts it, "harm his viability as a candidate and reduce his standing with female voters in particular."

The timing of Daniels's claim that she had a sexual encounter with Trump while he was married to his current wife Melania added fuel to the public-relations fire that was still raging just days after the revelation of the Access Hollywood tape. Alerted by Pecker, Cohen sprang into action, promptly negotiating an agreement to pay Daniels $130,000 to kill her story.

This is where the criminal scheme began.

Posted by at April 11, 2023 12:00 AM