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There are lies, damn lies, and there's EVERY LYIN' SUMBITCH IN DONALD TRUMP'S ORBIT! The Wall Street Journal just dropped a huge connect-the-dots piece on the secret plan in Trumpland to use the National Enquirer's checkbook to bury stories of all the ladies Trump bumped his orange uglies against. And, with apologies to Popehat and Bing Crosby, it's beginning to look a lot like RICO!

It all started back in 2015, when serial philanderer Donald Trump decided he'd goose his brand by running for president. Being a dirty old perv, he knew there were endless women with stories about him that might give the church ladies heartburn. (Or not.) Luckily, he had a friend at the National Enquirer who'd been disappearing stories about him since the '90s.


As a presidential candidate in August 2015, Donald Trump huddled with a longtime friend, media executive David Pecker, in his cluttered 26th floor Trump Tower office and made a request.

What can you do to help my campaign? he asked, according to people familiar with the meeting.

Mr. Pecker, chief executive of American Media Inc., offered to use his National Enquirer tabloid to buy the silence of women if they tried to publicize alleged sexual encounters with Mr. Trump.

Less than a year later, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Pecker to quash the story of a former Playboy model who said they'd had an affair. Mr. Pecker's company soon paid $150,000 to the model, Karen McDougal, to keep her from speaking publicly about it. Mr. Trump later thanked Mr. Pecker for the assistance.

We are old enough to remember when Donald Trump denied ever knowing anything about the payment to Karen McDougal. Because we are exactly two years old.

In reality, Trump was fully briefed on all the negotiations between Michael Cohen, David Pecker, and Pecker's little viper (and Harvey Weinstein's attack dog) Dylan Howard. Remember when Michael Cohen was charged with "coordinat[ing] with one or more members of the campaign, including through meetings and phone calls, about the fact, nature, and timing of the payments?" Did you think that meant Don Jr. or Eric? Well, probably it does. But looks like Poppy didn't trust those two idiots to cross the street without holding their hands the whole way!

The unnamed campaign member or members referred to Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the document.

Hey, remember how Nixon was an unindicted co-conspirator in the Watergate break in? LOL! And remember how Trump is ALREADY an unindicted co-conspirator in this story? LOL again!

But let's not stray too far down Memory Lane, because there's lots more in this WSJ story. For instance, David Pecker knew damn well that he was skirting campaign finance laws by buying Karen McDougal's story to help Trump's campaign. But he decided that slapping McDougal's face on a couple of magazine covers would be a sufficient fig leaf to justify calling it a business expense.

Mr. Pecker researched campaign-finance laws before entering into the McDougal deal. The question was: Would American Media's payment amount to an illegal campaign contribution to Mr. Trump? Corporations are barred under federal law from giving directly to candidates, either in cash or in-kind contributions.

After speaking with an election-law specialist, Mr. Pecker concluded the company's payment to Ms. McDougal wouldn't violate the law, because the magazine covers and health columns gave him a business justification for the deal.

The problem arose later when Trump wanted to buy the entire back-catalogue of stories from AMI. Pecker and Cohen had negotiated a deal to pay $125,000 for the whole lot. And Trump was even willing to cough up the cash, as memorialized in Cohen's secret recording. But Pecker got cold feet about shredding the tiny fig leaf that was barely shielding his pink bits from a charge of conspiracy to commit campaign finance fraud.

Mr. Pecker called off the Trump-reimbursement deal in October 2016 on the advice of his lawyer. Accepting reimbursement from Mr. Trump, the executive worried, could undermine any argument that the McDougal payment was made for editorial and business reasons, rather than as an in-kind campaign contribution.

Mr. Pecker told Mr. Cohen to tear up the reimbursement agreement, but Mr. Cohen kept a copy. Federal agents found it in a search of Mr. Cohen's office earlier this year.

Michael Cohen, Cooley Law's Finest!

But wait, there's MORE! Seems that Cohen wanted AMI to buy Stormy Daniels's story, too. But Pecker was squicked out by paying off a pornstar and pulled out of the deal.

Mr. Cohen asked American Media to buy Ms. Clifford's story. Mr. Pecker refused on the grounds that he didn't want his company to pay a porn star.

Messrs. Cohen and Trump would have to handle the payment themselves. Mr. Cohen told federal prosecutors he relayed the news to Mr. Trump in his Trump Tower office in the second week of October 2016.

That is when Mr. Trump, smarting from the "Access Hollywood" tape, told Mr. Cohen to "get it done," according to Mr. Cohen's account to prosecutors.

UH HUH.

Leave aside the irony of a guy who hires photographers to snap intrusive photos of celebrities inside their own homes being too precious for porn. The aborted negotiations between Daniels and AMI left the company in a vulnerable position. If Daniels did talk to the press, and she revealed that the National Enquirer was buying up stories to help Trump's campaign, any other women the magazine had paid off would work out that they'd been played. (That would be your pattern of criminal acts, for those of you playing along on your RICO scorecard at home.) And if the women worked it out, then so might federal investigators looking into undeclared in-kind contributions to the Trump campaign far exceeding the $2,700 cap. So Dylan Howard, who has now flipped, told Cohen he needed to find that money SOMEHOW, to make sure that their conspiracy to keep McDougal and Daniels from tanking the Trump campaign never got out.

[Daniels's lawyer Keith] Davidson told Mr. Howard on Oct. 25, 2016, that Ms. Clifford would soon speak publicly. Mr. Howard texted Mr. Cohen that they needed to coordinate "or it could look awfully bad for everyone."

In a tense three-way call on an encrypted app, Messrs. Pecker and Howard urged Mr. Cohen to complete the deal before Ms. Clifford disclosed the hush-money negotiations.

As election day approached, Michael Cohen, who has now flipped, and Allen Weisselberg, who has now flipped, were desperate to get Daniels paid and shut her up.

The money was slow in coming because Mr. Trump, Mr. Cohen and the longtime chief financial officer of the Trump Organization, Allen Weisselberg, couldn't settle on a plan for getting it to Mr. Davidson without anyone being able to trace it back to Mr. Trump, according to Mr. Cohen's account to prosecutors. Among the options they considered: routing the payment through a Trump-owned property, Mr. Cohen told prosecutors.

Mr. Cohen offered a suggestion: Why not have Mr. Weisselberg make the payment? "You're the CFO," he told the longtime Trump aide, according to Mr. Cohen's account to prosecutors. "You pay this." Mr. Weisselberg said he couldn't come up with the money.

Mr. Cohen had told Mr. Davidson to expect a $130,000 wire transfer by Oct. 14, but missed the deadline, as well as an extension, prompting Ms. Clifford to walk away.

Finally, Cohen cut the check from his home equity line. Because he really was the stupidest, most loyal son of a bitch that ever lived. Not that it helped him much!

Later that month, after Mr. Trump's election win, Mr. Cohen met with Mr. Weisselberg to discuss reimbursement for the payment to Ms. Clifford, Mr. Cohen has told federal prosecutors.

While Mr. Cohen waited, he asked Mr. Pecker to lobby Mr. Trump to pay him more money.

Mr. Pecker visited Trump Tower twice during the presidential transition. When he raised Mr. Cohen's request during a meeting in the first week of December 2016, Mr. Trump demurred, saying Mr. Cohen had plenty of money. During Mr. Pecker's second visit, in January 2017, Mr. Trump thanked him for suppressing the McDougal story.

Cohen eventually did get paid back. As his indictment made clear, the payoff got laundered through the Trump Organization as a payment for legal services. And then Pecker, who has also flipped, rewarded him with this nice story once he got You're Fired from Trumpland.


So, have fun in France, Mister President! And sorry for whichever aide got to break the news of this story to Commander Ragestroke on the plane. (Just kidding. If you decide to work for that asshole, you deserve what you get.)

And there's your Friday News Dump. NO MORE NEWS TODAY, DAMMIT!

Wonkette, out.

[WSJ / headline inspired by alert Wonkette Twitter operative "Chris Russo"]

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