Report: Trump, Cohen planned to buy National Enquirer 'dirt' before election

Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Donald Trump and his then-attorney Michael Cohen hatched a plan before the 2016 presidential election to buy damaging information collected over decades by a tabloid newspaper and its publisher, The New York Times reported Thursday.

Cohen and Trump aimed to "buy up all the dirt on Mr. Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on him, dating back to the 1980s," according to the Times. The deal, which encompassed older stories from the tabloid and lists of sensitive sources and tips, among other things, was never finalized, the Times reported.

The news comes one week after reports surfaced that federal prosecutors granted immunity to American Media Inc. CEO David Pecker, one of Trump's longtime friends, in exchange for information about attempts by Trump and Cohen to silence a pair of women who claim they had sexual encounters with Trump years earlier, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels has said she had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, while Karen McDougal, a former Playboy Playmate, claimed she had a nearly year-long affair with Trump in 2006 and 2007.

Trump has denied the allegations, but last week, Cohen pleaded guilty to federal charges including a campaign finance violation related to payments made to the women.

Daniels signed a non-disclosure agreement shortly before voters went to the polls for the 2016 presidential election in exchange for $130,000 from Cohen. The rights to McDougal's story were bought in August 2016 by American Media Inc., The Wall Street Journal reported, but her story was never published.

In court records, prosecutors said Cohen planned to buy the rights to McDougal’s story from American Media Inc. for $125,000, but the media company backed out of the deal before it could be finalized.

Cohen told authorities Trump, who he did not name in court, coordinated with him to ensure the payments were made.

The two appeared to be discussing the payments in a recording seized by federal officials in April during a raid on Cohen's office. The recording was made in September 2016, two months before that year's presidential election, CNN reported.

"I need to open up a company for the transfer of all that info regarding our friend, David," Cohen can be heard saying in the tape. CNN reported that the David that Cohen referred to was most likely Pecker.

Authorities continue to investigate.

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