National Enquirer publisher's safe contained damaging Trump stories: report

The National Enquirer reportedly possessed a safe that contained damaging stories about President TrumpDonald John TrumpHouse Republican threatens to push for Rosenstein impeachment unless he testifies Judge suggests Trump’s tweet about Stormy Daniels was ‘hyperbole’ not defamation Rosenstein faces Trump showdown MORE that it had killed in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election. 

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the tabloid kept these items under lock and key as part of its friendly relationship with then-candidate Trump during his 2016 presidential campaign. The publication endorsed Trump in the 2016 election — the first time it ever announced official support for a presidential candidate.

ADVERTISEMENT

Multiple people familiar with National Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., told AP that the safe was "a great source of power" for National Enquirer publisher David Pecker. 

The records related to Trump were reportedly stored alongside documents related to other celebrities' catch-and-kill deals, an agreement in which exclusive rights to someone's story are bought with no intention of publishing the story. 

News of the media company's safe comes just hours after the revelation that Pecker met with prosecutors to discuss former Trump attorney Michael Cohen's involvement in the president's alleged nondisclosure payment deals with women prior to the 2016 election.

But the AP notes that the documents kept in the safe soon became a cause for concern after The Wall Street Journal first published details about Playboy model Karen McDougal’s catch-and-kill deal before the election. 

Pecker and the company’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, then removed the documents from the safe weeks before Trump’s inauguration, according to the AP. It is unclear if the documents were destroyed or moved to a different location, AP reported. 

McDougal is suing the National Enquirer over its ownership of her story about her alleged affair with Trump. She’s also sought public admission from the company that it was working on behalf of Trump or his associates with the goal of silencing her.

Trump has repeatedly denied the affair. 

Prosecutors granted immunity to Pecker this week as part of their investigation into Trump’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Cohen pleaded guilty to eight federal charges on Tuesday, including violating campaign finance law, which he said he did at Trump's direction, though he did not name the president outright. 

Cohen said in court on Tursday that he violated campaign finance law with a $130,000 nondisclosure payment he made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels at Trump's guidance. Daniels claims to have had an affair with the president more than a decade ago and is suing Trump and Cohen for defamation for denying her claims.

-- Updated at 6:40 p.m.