The National Enquirer kept a safe containing documents on hush money payments and other damaging stories it killed as part of its cozy relationship with Donald Trump leading up to the 2016 presidential election, people familiar with the arrangement tell the AP. The detail came amid reports that federal prosecutors had granted immunity to Enquirer chief David Pecker, potentially laying bare his efforts to protect his longtime friend Trump. Michael Cohen pleaded guilty this week to campaign finance violations alleging he, Trump, and the tabloid were involved in buying the silence of two women who alleged affairs with Trump. Five people familiar with the Enquirer's parent company, American Media Inc., speaking on the condition of anonymity because they signed non-disclosure agreements, say the safe was a great source of power for Pecker, the company's CEO.
The Trump records were stored alongside similar documents pertaining to other celebrities' catch-and-kill deals, in which exclusive rights to people's stories were bought with no intention of publishing to keep them out of the news. By keeping celebrities' embarrassing secrets, the company was able to ingratiate itself with them and ask for favors in return, the sources say. But after details of Playboy model Karen McDougal's catch-and-kill deal were reported shortly before the 2016 election, those assets became a liability. Fearful that the documents might be used against the firm, Pecker removed them from the safe weeks before Trump's inauguration, one source says. It's not clear whether the documents were destroyed or simply moved to a location known to fewer people.
(Read more National Enquirer