Donald Trump knew that his personal lawyer made secret payments to two women claiming they had affairs with Trump in the months after his youngest son was born, the publisher of the National Enquirer reportedly told federal investigators.
David Pecker, the chairman of the company that publishes the tabloid magazine and a close friend of Trump, has spoken with investigators regarding payments Michael Cohen made to two women, the Wall Street Journal reported. The report claimed that Pecker had been subpoenaed back in April, which came at the same time that the FBI raided Cohen’s home and office, seizing thousands of documents along with recordings.
The development comes just a day after Cohen pleaded guilty to eight charges, including campaign finance violations related to the payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Cohen admitted that Trump had directed him to make the payments for the “principal purpose of influencing the election.”
The Justice Department in its charges against Cohen said that the “chairman” of a media company that owns a popular tabloid had put Cohen in contact with both of the women in an effort to protect Trump from what would have been the devastating allegations ahead of the election.
Donald Trump initially denied any knowledge of these payments, but this week said he did find out about them “later on.”
As the BBC noted, none of the payments were reported as campaign contributions, which could leave Donald Trump in hot water.
“The hush money payments were not reported to the Federal Election Commission during the campaign,” the report noted. “The question is whether the payments were made to protect Mr. Trump’s personal reputation or to protect his image as a presidential candidate. Under U.S. election rules, any payments made with the aim of influencing a vote must be reported.”
Trump didn't consult his then-campaign finance lawyer Don McGahn about the hush money payments made days before the election, Bloomberg reports.
The absence of McGahn could be a key piece of evidence in any criminal prosecution. https://t.co/WlHKmPObiO
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) August 23, 2018
At the time the hush money payments were made, Trump was reeling from the release of the Access Hollywood video that appeared to show him bragging about sexually assaulting women, leading to more than a dozen women coming forward to claim that Trump had sexually harassed or assaulted them in incidents that stretched back decades. The video led to a major dip in presidential polls for Trump, which only leveled off weeks later when an FBI letter to Congress was leaked announcing that there was new evidence in Hillary Clinton’s email investigation — for which she was ultimately cleared.
Donald Trump has denied having affairs with both Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.