The relationship between Donald Trump and the National Enquirer is well documented. The tabloid has gone to extraordinary lengths to help the president, and the president has insisted the tabloid deserves Pulitzer Prizes.
The Washington Post reported overnight, however, that during the campaign, the connections between Trump's operation and the Enquirer went much further than previously understood.
During the presidential campaign, National Enquirer executives sent digital copies of the tabloid's articles and cover images related to Donald Trump and his political opponents to Trump's attorney Michael Cohen in advance of publication, according to three people with knowledge of the matter -- an unusual practice that speaks to the close relationship between Trump and David Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., the Enquirer's parent company.Although the company strongly denies ever sharing such material before publication, these three individuals say the sharing of material continued after Trump took office.
According to one of the Post's sources, during the campaign, "if it was a story specifically about Trump, then it was sent over to Michael, and as long as there were no objections from him, the story could be published."
When there were objections, according to the report, the tabloid would change photos and headlines.
This, of course, follows related reports from recent months about the Enquirer allegedly going so far as to buy the exclusive rights to stories that may have embarrassed Trump, and then never publishing anything.
At first blush, it may seem like the allegations relate to ridiculous journalistic standards, and a possible partnership between a White House and a supermarket tabloid. But while those angles certainly matter, in this case, there's a little more to it.
The Post's report added, "An FBI raid executed April 8 on Cohen's office and residences sought all of the lawyer's records of communications with AMI, Pecker and [Dylan Howard, the company's chief content officer] regarding two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump while he was married, according to three people familiar with the investigation."
What's more, the Wall Street Journal reported this week that federal authorities subpoenaed the National Enquirer's publisher "for records related to its $150,000 payment to a former Playboy model for the rights to her story alleging an affair with Donald Trump, according to people familiar with the matter."
The article added, "The subpoena from Manhattan federal prosecutors requesting information from the publisher, American Media Inc., about its August 2016 payment to Karen McDougal is part of a broader criminal investigation of Mr. Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, they said."
I wonder how much Donald Trump knew about all of this.