The National Enquirer once had a physical safe filled with embarrassing and incrimination information about Donald Trump, kept under literal lock and key.
In the waning days of the 2016 presidential election, just after a reporter for the Wall Street Journal called the celebrity tabloid asking for comment about a story on the outlet killed a story about a Playboy model who had an affair with Trump, they were hastily destroyed, a new book claims.
American Media, Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, has come under fire for its efforts to kill stories about Donald Trump and running questionable and sometimes false stories about his political opponents. Now, new reporting sheds light on the efforts that the tabloid took to protect sensitive information about Trump from being released. As Politico reported, the efforts are the focus of a book from journalist Ronan Farrow, who found that the editor in chief of the National Enquirer personally ordered staff to “get everything out of the safe” and “get a shredder down there” to destroy the information.
As the report noted, the order came the day the National Enquirer was asked to comment on a story about how it paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal in what is known as a “catch and kill” — a method of paying someone off for an exclusive story that the newspaper had no intention of running. The National Enquirer was accused of killing the story to keep from hurting Trump in the days before the election.
This led to an order to empty out a safe where longtime National Enquirer editor Barry Levine kept the sensitive information about Trump that dated back decades. Howard also ordered senior staff to exhume information that was kept in storage bins in Florida so it could be shipped to the company’s headquarters and put into a safe. Employees later found that some of it had gone missing, leading to speculation that some of it had been destroyed.
While the story about McDougal’s alleged affair with Trump would be published before the 2016 election, it was not until months later that it emerged as a major scandal as Trump’s personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen, would face charges that he illegally withheld reporting on what amounted to campaign donations for the money spent to keep the women quiet. Cohen said he was acting on Trump’s orders.
Farrow’s book has already drawn pushback, The Daily Beast had reported. Ahead of the expose, a lawyer representing National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard attempted to suppress the publishing his book.