President Donald Trump was in the room in August of 2015 when his former attorney, Michael Cohen, and American Media Inc. publisher David Pecker discussed ways to shield him from negative stories, including several alleged affairs with a number of women, according to media reports.
The meeting with Trump, Cohen and Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer and a good friend of Trump's, could amount to violations of campaign finance laws to help Trump win the presidency, CNN reported, citing sources familiar with the case.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the meeting in November, but it resurfaced again after Cohen's sentencing on Wednesday, when federal prosecutors released an agreement made with AMI, the parent company of the National Enquirer, that stated, "Pecker offered to help deal with the negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationship with women by, among other things assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided."
A source says Trump was present at the meeting where Michael Cohen and the chairman of American Media Inc. discussed illegal hush money payments https://t.co/M7uj2tQVYc pic.twitter.com/rEPqmzgevH— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) December 14, 2018
Prosecutors agreed not to prosecute AMI on campaign finance violations in exchange for help in their investigation.
As part of the agreement, AMI admitted it made a $150,000 payment "in concert with the campaign," and said that, in addition to Cohen and Pecker, "at least one other member of the campaign" was at the meeting and that the "other member" was Trump, NBC News reported.
Pecker has not been charged with any crimes and has admitted to making a $150,000 payment to former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal for her story on an alleged affair with Trump, then burying the story.
Trump has denied any alleged affairs and has denied that he directed Cohen to make another payment, this time a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels.
Cohen, however, pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations and tax evasion charges, and he said in court that Trump directed hush money payments to Daniels.
Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison and three years of probation.
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