Today, America Media, Inc. (“AMI”) the parent entity of the National Enquirer entered into a non-prosecution agreement with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. I have posted it here. I suspect that, due to the sentencing of Michael Cohen, the AMI agreement will not get as much attention as it deserves. It is, however, a blockbuster.
The agreement has as an exhibit a two-page “Statement of Admitted Facts” that provides, in part, as follows:
- “In or about August 2015, David Pecker, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMI, met with Michael Cohen, an attorney for a presidential candidate, and at least one other member of the campaign [presumably Donald Trump]. At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories.” Statement of Admitted Facts, ¶ 3.
- “In or about June 2016, an attorney representing a model and actress attempting to sell her story of her alleged extramarital affair with the aforementioned presidential candidate contacted an editor at the National Enquirer. Pecker and the editor called Cohen and informed him of the story. At Cohen’s urging and subject to Cohen’s promise that AMI would be reimbursed, the editor began negotiating for the purchase of the story. On June 20, 2016, the editor interviewed the model about her story. Following the interview, AMI communicated to Cohen that it would acquire the story to prevent its publication.” Statement of Admitted Facts, ¶ 4.
- On or about August 5, 2016, AMI entered into an agreement with the model to acquire her “limited life rights” to the story of her relationship with “any then-married man,” in exchange for $150,000. It was also agreed that AMI would feature her on two magazine covers and could publish over one hundred magazine articles authored by her. AMI agreed to pay the model $150,000 — substantially more money than AMI otherwise would have paid to acquire the story — because of Cohen’s assurances to Pecker that AMI would ultimately be reimbursed for the payment. Despite the cover and article features to the agreement, AMI’s principal purpose in entering into the agreement was to suppress the model’s story so as to prevent it from influencing the election. At no time during the negotiation for or acquisition of the model’s story did AMI intend to publish the story or disseminate information about it publicly. On or about August 10, 2016, AMI sent $150,000 to an attorney representing the model. Statement of Admitted Facts, ¶ 5.
- At all relevant times, AMI knew that corporations such as AMI are subject to federal campaign finance laws, and that expenditures by corporations, made for purposes of influencing an election and in coordination with or at the request of a candidate or campaign, are unlawful. At no time did AMI report to the Federal Election Commission that it had made the $150,000 payment to the model. Statement of Admitted Facts, ¶ 8.
As reported in an article by Eric Wemple in the Washington Post, Tucker Carlson: Trump Is a Crime Victim,
Trump apologist Fox News commentator Tucker Carlson is quoted as follows:
Remember the facts of the story. These are undisputed: Two women approached Donald Trump and threatened to ruin his career and humiliate his family if he doesn’t give them money. Now, that sounds like a classic case of extortion. Yet for whatever reason, Trump caves to it and he directs Michael Cohen to pay the ransom. Now more than two years later, Trump is a felon for doing this. It doesn’t seem to make any sense. Oh, but you’re not a federal prosecutor on a political mission. If you were a federal prosecutor on a political mission, you would construe those extortion payments as campaign contributions. You’d do this even though the money in question did not come from or go to Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Then you’d claim that Trump and Michael Cohen violated campaign finance law because they didn’t publicly disclose those payments, despite the fact that disclosing them would nullify the reason for making them in the first place, which was to keep the whole thing secret. That is the argument you would make, both in federal court and through your proxies on cable television. It is insultingly stupid but because everyone in power hates the target of your investigation, nobody would question you, and that’s what’s happening right now.
(Emphasis in the WaPo original.)
Based on the Statement of Admitted Facts in the AMI matter, we now know:
- As to Karen McDougal, at least, there was no extortion involved. Rather, she simply wanted to profit from her relationship with Trump. It was Trump’s agent, acting on Trump’s behalf, who brought the matter to Trump’s attention. McDougal never requested money from Trump, did not know that AMI was acting as Trump’s agent, and expected the full and complete story to make its way in the public domain. Manifestly, she was not being paid for her public silence, but rather for her willingness to use the AMI publications to broadcast the story.
- Carlson’s contention that the payments were not campaign contributions is palpably false. As ¶ 4 of the Statement of Admitted Facts states: “At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories.” In other words, from the very beginning, even before it was known that McDougal was willing to publicly disclose her story, Trump, Cohen, and Pecker planned to put her story or any similar story within a cone of silence in order to aid the campaign.
Distilled to its essence, with regard to McDougal at least, (1) Trump was not the victim of an extortion attempt and (2) the payment of hush money to McDougal was a deliberate and calculated campaign violation.
Oh, yeah. We know that Tucker Carlson is nothing but a dishonest Trump apologist.