According to Michael Cohen’s criminal information, he and David Pecker started conspiring to protect Trump from scandals pertaining to his extramarital affairs and alleged sexual assault starting in August 2015.
In or about August 2015, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Corporation-1 ( “Chairman-1”), in coordination with MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, and one or more members of the campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-l’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Chairman-1 agreed to keep COHEN apprised of any such negative stories.
That means Cohen and Pecker were conspiring to help Trump’s electoral chances when Trump’s rat-fucker, Roger Stone, planted a story in Pecker’s pages on March 23, 2016, accusing Ted Cruz, who was running on his Evangelical brand, of having affairs with five different women. (h/t Allen Smith for remembering this incident)
The National Enquirer published an article Wednesday alleging that the Texas senator had five secret mistresses. While it did not identify the alleged mistresses by name, the article included headshots of five women that were pixelated with black bars over their eyes.
The article also quoted Roger Stone, a former Trump adviser who is still close to the real-estate mogul. “These stories have been swirling about Cruz for some time,” Stone said in the National Enquirer. “I believe where there is smoke there is fire. I have to believe this will hurt him with his evangelical Christian supporters.”
Cruz unsurprisingly accused Trump of planting the story. To which Trump claimed he does not surround himself with political hacks … then pretend total innocence.
“And I would note that Mr. Stone is a man who has 50 years of dirty tricks behind him. He’s a man whom a term was coined for copulating with a rodent. Well let me be clear, Donald Trump may be a rat but I have no desire to copulate with him. And this garbage does not belong in politics,” Cruz said.
Trump issued a statement Friday afternoon denying any involvement with the National Enquirer.
“I have no idea whether or not the cover story about Ted Cruz in this week’s issue of the National Enquirer is true or not, but I had absolutely nothing to do with it, did not know about it, and have not, as yet, read it,” Trump said.
“I have nothing to do with the National Enquirer and unlike Lyin’ Ted Cruz I do not surround myself with political hacks and henchman (sic) and then pretend total innocence. Ted Cruz’s problem with the National Enquirer is his and his alone, and while they were right about O.J. Simpson, John Edwards, and many others, I certainly hope they are not right about Lyin’ Ted Cruz,” he added.
The timing of all this is quite interesting for several reasons. First, because Mueller has asked witnesses against Stone about meetings they had with Stone and Rick Gates in the spring, meaning we know the scope of his investigation into Stone extends back into the primary timeframe. The story came out just before Trump formally announced the hiring of Paul Manafort to manage his convention.
More interesting, still, the story came out even as Stone and his ally Pamela Jensen were ramping up attacks on Hillary for Bill’s philandering — the same kind of projection this Enquirer story entailed. The story came weeks after Stone first tweeted out his Stop the Steal campaign. Not long after, Stone started to shift money from his PAC, Committee to Restore America’s Greatness (CRAG in the timeline below), to his 527, Stop the Steal.
February 1, 2016: Pamela Jensen sends out fundraising letter to World Net Daily pushing Kathleen Wiley’s mortgage fundraiser
February 4, 2016: Jensen & Associates loans $2,610 to CRAG
February 10, 2016: Loans from Jensen & Associates repaid
February 19, 2016: Roger Stone tells Alex Jones that Donald Trump has donated to the Kathleen Willey fundraiser, even though it had raised less than $4,000 at that time
March 1, 2016: John Powers Middleton Company donates $150,000 to CRAG
March 6, 2016: First tweet in spring Stop the Steal campaign
March 9, 2016: John Powers Middleton donates $50,000 to CRAG
March 11, 2016: John Powers Middleton donates $25,000 to CRAG
March 14, 2016: John Powers Middleton donates $25,000 to CRAG
March 23, 2016: Ted Cruz National Enquirer smear
March 29, 2016: Trump announces hiring of Paul Manafort
April 6, 2016: Stone (Sarah Rollins) establishes Stop the Steal in same UPS post box as CRAG
April 6, 2016: CRAG gives $50,000 to Stop the Steal
So there’s good reason to believe that Mueller is reviewing Stone’s actions from this time period.
As numerous outlets have reported, prosecutors have given Pecker immunity to testify (at least) about the Cohen matter. The NYT reported that the Enquirer’s Chief Content Officer, Dylan Howard, also keeps a recording device in his office.
Though several people familiar with American Media’s operations have said that the company keeps a strict records policy that ensures that emails are deleted regularly, it is not clear the same held for encrypted communications or recordings; Dylan Howard, the company’s chief content officer, who is also said to be cooperating, was known to have a recording device in his office, according to people familiar with his operations. American Media would not comment.
In court documents filed on Tuesday federal prosecutors cited “encrypted” communications among Mr. Pecker, Mr. Howard and Mr. Cohen regarding the payoff to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic actress known as Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a brief affair with Mr. Trump.
Perhaps the Pecker participation in this conspiracy goes beyond just hush payments?