I‘ve been talking to a lot of reporters today about whether AMI/National Enquirer and its leaders could be liable for campaign finance violations, given their role in paying money to keep Trump mistresses quiet. I explained that the issue is complicated in part because of the role of the National Enquirer as a (no doubt mostly disreputable) news organization, and there are certain exemptions from campaign finance laws for news organizations so that they can continue in the journalistic functions. We would not want FOX News having on Trump during the campaign for an interview or a NYT endorsement of Hillary Clinton on its editorial page to count as an in-kind corporate contribution.
But the government’s information on Cohen seems to implicate folks at AMI for engaging in criminal campaign finance activity—it is hard to believe that “catch and kill” (paying for a story so as to have it not run anywhere) is a legitimate journalistic function. So there’s got to be some exposure there.
So I was struck in the WSJ’s tick-tock of the Cohen decision to plead guilty with this line:
Adding to the pressure, David Pecker, the chairman of American Media Inc., which publishes the National Enquirer, provided prosecutors with details about payments Mr. Cohen arranged with women who alleged sexual encounters with President Trump, including Mr. Trump’s knowledge of the deals.
Pecker is cooperating with prosecutors, likely to save his own skin. Will he be charged with an offense? Given his involvement as detailed in the Cohen documents, it seems like he could be charged. It may not come till after the election, but I expect a plea deal to come.