Let's Talk CONSPIRACY: A Peckersplainer, About Trump's National Enquirer Buddy David Pecker!
It's time to start using the "C" word. It may be rude. It may be vulgar. People may give you the stink-eye or ask you to leave the Wendy's drive in. But this is a giant fucking conspiracy, and we need to call it what it is.
(And it's got nothing to do with Russia. Probably.)
Legally speaking, a conspiracy is an agreement between two or more people to intentionally commit an illegal act, plus some overt act toward furthering the agreement. Here, let the prosecutors from the Southern District of New York (SDNY) introduce you to the people involved in the conspiracy to violate campaign finance laws and saddle the country with a senile Oompa Loompa-in-Chief.
In or about August 2015, the Chairman and Chief Executive of Corporation-1 [American Media, Inc.] ("Chairman-1") [David Pecker], in coordination with MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, and one or more members of the [Trump] campaign, offered to help deal with negative stories about Individual-1's [Trump] 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. [Emphasis added.]
Pecker and AMI explicitly offered to use shareholder dollars to help the Trump campaign bury damaging stories. And the campaign eagerly accepted. HELLO, CONSPIRACY! And the overt acts?
Consistent with the agreement described above, Corporation-1 advised MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, of negative stories during the course of the campaign, and COHEN, with the assistance of Corporation-1, was able to arrange for the purchase of two stories so as to suppress them and prevent them from influencing the election. [Emphasis added.]
That's not just your favorite foulmouthed recipe blog speculating. That's the US government laying out the elements of criminal conspiracy involving the president in Tuesday's Information on Michael Cohen. It's why the prosecutors made him allocute to breaking the law at the behest of the president and in coordination with the Trump Organization and Trump campaign. And it's probably why Agent Orange kicked his spray tan up to 11 before sitting down yesterday with Ainsley "Communist Japan" Earhardt to pretend the Justice Department, helmed by Jeff Sessions and staffed with his own handpicked US Attorneys, is lousy with liberals.
Seriously, though, WHY IS HE SO ORANGE RIGHT NOW?
So why did Cohen plead guilty to multiple felonies that guarantee him years in jail with no cooperation agreement in hand? Maybe because one of the other conspirators, someone less inclined to "take a bullet" for that tangerine-hued narcissist, cooperated first. The WSJ reports,
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.
Also, too, if you record every conversation, you're not left with much to bargain with when the Feds knock on the door and seize all your shit.
So who else is involved in this conspiracy? Well, we've already heard the tapes of Trump conspiring to buy Karen McDougal's story from AMI. And Cohen's Information fingers multiple employees of the Trump Organization for conspiring to hide payments to Stormy Daniels and some "tech corporation."
On or about February 14, 2017, MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, sent an executive of the Company ("Executive-1") the first of his monthly invoices, requesting " [p]ursuant to [a] retainer agreement, ... payment for services rendered for the months of January and February, 2017." The invoice listed $35,000 for each of those two months. Executive-1 forwarded the invoice to another executive of the Company ("Executive-2") the same day by email, and it was approved. Executive-1 forwarded that email to another employee at the Company, stating: "Please pay from the Trust. Post to legal expenses. Put 'retainer for the months of January and February 2017' in the description."
As we mentioned yesterday, we have a pretty good idea that this refers to Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg and the dipshit spawn.
Now let's meet a new character! Dylan Howard, COME ON DOWN!
You might remember Mr. Howard as the guy who sent reporters out to "interview" Rose McGowan and other accusers, only to turn the notes over to Weinstein and kill the stories. He seems nice!
In this episode, Howard plays the role of Editor 1. Here he is urging Cohen to hurry up and seal the deal with Stormy Daniels two weeks before the election, "or it could look awfully bad for everyone."
On the evening of October 25, 2016, with no deal with Woman-2 finalized, Attorney-1 [Keith Davidson] told Editor-1 that Woman-2 [Stormy Daniels] was close to completing a deal with another outlet to make her story public. Editor-1, in turn, texted MICHAEL COHEN, the defendant, that "[w]e have to coordinate something on the matter [Attorney-1 is] calling you about or it could look awfully bad for everyone." Chairman-1 [David Pecker] and Editor-1 then called COHEN through an encrypted telephone application. COHEN agreed to make the payment, and then called Attorney-1 to finalize the deal.
WHO IS EVERYONE, DYLAN? Was "everyone" worried that Daniels would torpedo Trump's electoral chances if she sold her story to another tabloid? Or was "everyone" worried that they were engaged in a criminal fucking conspiracy to commit major campaign finance violations, and if Daniels started talking about the failed sale to AMI, Karen McDougal would work out that she'd been played, too?
(Which is exactly what happened in March of 2017.)
Here, let the Post give you the ticktock of Howard's interactions with Cohen and Davidson:
On Oct. 8, 2016, the charging documents say, after an agent for Daniels informed Dylan Howard, an editor at the tabloid company, that she intended to tell her story publicly, Pecker and Howard contacted Cohen. Within days, Cohen negotiated a $130,000 deal to buy her silence, the documents say.
On Oct. 25, 2016, after Cohen did not execute the payment, Pecker and Howard warned him that Daniels was close to selling her story to another publication and urged him to finalize the deal. [...]
But that night, Howard was reaching out to warn Cohen about Daniels's plans. "We have to coordinate something" to resolve the situation, Howard texted, "or it could look awfully bad for everyone," according to the charging documents. Howard and Pecker then called Cohen on an encrypted phone application, and he agreed to pay Daniels, the documents say.
Now you see it? And here's Cohen texting Daniels's and McDougal's former attorney Keith Davidson in January 2017 as the Trump administration debated whether to force Daniels to go on Sean Hannity's show and deny the affair ever happened.
Does that implicate Sean Hannity and current members of the Trump White House in the conspiracy to commit campaign fraud? YOU BET YOUR ASS IT DOES.
JFC, did these people never watch "The Wire"?
Oh, and one more thing. Remember a couple weeks back when Michael Avenatti said this?
There are three additional female clients of mine that have not been disclosed that were paid hush money prior to the 2016 election, whether it be from Michael Cohen on behalf of the president, an entity that Michael Cohen formed, or AMI.
Buckle up, kids! We're headed for some turbulence.
UPDATE: As we were typing, Vanity Fair reported that prosecutors have granted Pecker and Howard immunity for their cooperation. Dun dun DUNNNNNNNNNN.
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.