Executives at the National Enquirer sent copies of the unpublished tabloid to President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE’s longtime lawyer, Michael Cohen, during the 2016 presidential campaign, The Washington Post reported Thursday.
Three people with knowledge of the matter told the Post that the unusual practice continued after Trump's inauguration, although the Enquirer denies engaging in the practice.
“Since Trump’s become president and even before, [David Pecker] openly just has been willing to turn the magazine and the cover over to the Trump machine,” one person told The Post.
Sources told the Post that Pecker, chief executive of the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., would send articles and cover images related to Trump and his opponents before they were published, highlighting the close relationship between the two men.
One person familiar with the matter told the Post that if a story was specifically about Trump, it would be sent to Cohen first.
“As long as there were no objections from him, the story could be published,” the source told the newspaper.
Cohen, Pecker and Trump’s current lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, did not respond to requests from the Post for comment.
The company denied the allegations and Dylan Howard, the Enquirer's chief content officer, called the story “completely false.”
“We made a very public endorsement of Trump,” Howard said. “So it wouldn’t be out of the ordinary for me to commission stories on his opponents given that we had endorsed Donald Trump. And that’s what I did.”
Howard denied that Trump ever consulted on editorial decisions.
“We do not run or kill stories on the behest of politicians, even if they are the president of the United States,” Howard told the Post.
American Media Inc. reportedly paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her story about an alleged affair with Trump and then withheld it from publication.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that federal prosecutors in Manhattan subpoenaed American Media for records related to the payment.
A Justice Department official told the Journal that Pecker did not meet the regulations that would allow prosecutors to obtain records of members of the media.
“American Media Inc., has, and will continue to, comply with any and all requests that do not jeopardize or violate its protected sources or materials pursuant to our first amendment rights,” AMI spokesman Jon Hammond said.
Cohen, who acted as Trump’s fixer for many years, reportedly tried to shut down negative stories about his former client often.
Cohen acknowledged paying adult-film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 just days before the election as part of a non-disclosure agreement regarding her alleged affair with Trump.
Investigators are reportedly looking into Cohen’s involvement in that payment.
The Journal reported that they are also probing whether Cohen coordinated with American Media in paying McDougal for her story.
The FBI reportedly took records related to both women from Cohen’s home, office and hotel room during a raid earlier this year.