This July 12, 2017, file photo shows the cover of an issue of the National Enquirer featuring President Donald Trump at a store in New York.
Mary Altaffer/AP Photo, file

Trump picks a curious time to praise his favorite supermarket tabloid

The Rachel Maddow Show, 12/12/18, 9:28 PM ET

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Rachel Maddow shows the legal exposure of Don Jr, Eric, and Ivanka Trump as the only Trump Organization executives with check-writing authority who aren’t protected by an immunity deal as federal prosecutors appear to be focusing on the trail of the hush
Even before taking office, Donald Trump made no secret of his affection for the National Enquirer. The Republican insisted that the supermarket tabloid “should be very respected” and deserves “Pulitzer Prizes for their reporting.”

As president, his support hasn’t faded. Take yesterday, for example.

Four days after Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos announced a divorce with his wife MacKenzie, a prominent figure took to Twitter to comment on the matter: Donald Trump.

The president appeared to mock the business giant and Washington Post owner in a tweet Sunday night, referring to Bezos as “Jeff Bozo.”

“So sorry to hear the news about Jeff Bozo being taken down by a competitor whose reporting, I understand, is far more accurate than the reporting in his lobbyist newspaper, the Amazon Washington Post,” Trump wrote. “Hopefully the paper will soon be placed in better & more responsible hands!”

The confluence of events was apparently too much for the president. Trump hates the Washington Post because of its coverage of his White House, which leads Trump to also hate Jeff Bezos, because he publishes the newspaper, and Amazon, because Bezos owns the online retailer.

The Republican also, of course, loves the National Enquirer, which has helped Trump with glowing coverage, and which reportedly uncovered damaging information about Bezos, contributing to the breakup of his marriage.

Trump thought it’d be a good idea to tie all of this together, declaring that the supermarket tabloid is “far more accurate” than one of the nation’s premier news organizations – all while demonstrating the maturity of an ill-tempered child. (“Jeff Bozo”? Seriously?)

But what makes this of particular note is the timing of the developments.

It was, after all, just last month when prosecutors in New York documented the fact that American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, admitted that it made lucrative hush-money payments to some of Trump’s alleged former mistresses, all in the hopes of silencing them ahead of the 2016 elections.

Making matters worse, in order to avoid prosecution, AMI conceded that its efforts were made “in concert with” the Trump campaign. The media company also agreed to provide extensive assistance to prosecutors.

At this point, there are some elements to the story that we don’t know. Was Trump’s tweet intended to influence AMI’s cooperation with law enforcement? Did AMI target Bezos as a favor to Trump? I won’t pretend to know the answers to questions like these.

But it is curious that the National Enquirer’s publisher admitted to campaign-finance violations with Trump in December, only to be publicly praised by Trump a month later. Common sense suggests the president should be downplaying his connections to the tabloid, not doing the opposite.