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A Key Witness Just Joined The Fight Against Trump, Investigation Now Looks Unstoppable

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“The plot thickens” is a phrase that can be accurately used to describe Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation into President Donald Trump and his cronies pretty much every single day at this point. No, scratch that – every hour. It seems that there is now a constant stream of people abandoning their loyalty to Trump and offering up to Mueller whole heaps of utterly damning evidence of the President’s wide ranging misdemeanors. Recently, though, another name that was added to this list changed the story entirely. David Pecker, who publishes the staunchly pro-Trump National Enquirer, has joined the team, and his name is such an important one that it might just swing the balance against the President. The Washington Post reports:

The National Enquirer’s parent company acknowledged paying hush money to a woman who alleged an affair with Donald Trump to “suppress the woman’s story” and “prevent it from influencing the election.”

The admission came as federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that they would not prosecute the company, American Media Inc. (AMI), for its role in a scheme to tilt the presidential race in favor of Trump. In the agreement, AMI said it would cooperate with prosecutors and admitted it paid $150,000 to Karen McDougal before the 2016 election to silence her allegations of an affair with Trump.

The deal signaled the unraveling of the deep relationship Trump and AMI chief executive David Pecker had forged over decades. The deal also made clear that Pecker, whose tabloid strongly supported Trump’s candidacy, has turned on the president.

AMI agreed to cooperate with the Southern District of New York in September, and the deal became public Wednesday as Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime fixer, was sentenced for campaign finance violations for his role in arranging payments to McDougal and Stormy Daniels, the pornographic film star who also alleges an affair with Trump. The moves put additional pressure on the president as he faces multiple investigations and finds himself losing the protection of some of his long-standing allies.

According to the agreement, Pecker met with Cohen “and at least one other member of the campaign” in August 2015. “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.”

Prosecutors also allege that Pecker and AMI played a key role in the effort to silence Daniels. One month before the election in 2016, after an agent for Daniels informed National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard that Daniels intended to tell her story publicly, Pecker and Howard contacted Cohen. Soon after, Cohen negotiated a $130,000 deal to buy Daniels’s silence.

Theodore Boutrous, a First Amendment attorney at Gibson Dunn who briefly represented McDougal, said the relationship between Trump’s associate and the tabloid publisher “was a shockingly creative plan meant to change the way American citizens voted. That is an important and serious violation of the law.”

Boutrous, who began looking into the National Enquirer’s role in protecting Trump in October 2016, said he always believed the tabloid “had teamed up with Donald Trump and his campaign to stop Ms. McDougal from speaking out, solely to protect Mr. Trump and help him get elected president. That seemed outrageous and illegal.”

For months, AMI denied that it had acted in concert with Trump’s campaign, initially saying “there was nothing sinister” about their actions, another of McDougal’s lawyers, Peter K. Stris, tweeted on Wednesday. “Today, the public has learned that AMI was lying.”

AMI’s non-prosecution agreement includes both Pecker and Howard, also the company’s chief content officer, who said in a June interview that Trump “has never been consulted on editorial decisions — or by himself or through intermediaries requested an article be written on a given subject or angled in a certain way.”

The National Enquirer was so unwaveringly and actively pro-Trump during the 2016 Presidential election campaign that it was arguably a big part of the reason why Trump actually won the Presidency (given how narrow the victory was – let’s not forget that Hillary Clinton won the popular vote) that this scalp is a truly enormous one. Pecker’s dissenting voice is one that threatens to put an end to any political authority Trump had once and for all. Here at Blue Side Nation, we think it couldn’t have come too soon.


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