In an excerpt from their book "The Fixers: The Bottom-Feeders, Crooked Lawyers, Gossipmongers, and Porn Stars Who Created the 45th President," authors Joe Palazzolo and Michael Rothfeld reveal executives at American Media’s National Enquirer were well aware that they were about to commit fraud as they were negotiating the price to "catch and kill" adult film star Stormy Daniels' story of her affair with Donald Trump.
The excerpt, published by the Daily Beast notes that Daniels's agent, Gina Rodriguez, had been shopping the story around to various outlets, including "Good Morning, America" just prior to the 2016 election but was finding no takers. Until the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape was released.
"The media frenzy breathed oxygen into Daniels’s flagging efforts to sell the story of her own Trump tryst. Extramarital sex with a porn star, even one who’d slept with Trump willingly, would still damage his fading chances. Her agent, Gina Rodriguez, had already begun talks about Daniels with Good Morning America. They weren’t advanced, but they were a card Rodriguez could now play," the authors wrote. "On Saturday, October 8, following the worst day of Trump’s campaign, Rodriguez, Dylan Howard, then the editor of American Media’s National Enquirer, and lawyer Keith Davidson began a series of conversations about Stormy Daniels that would last into the night. They realized her story was more marketable now than it had been when Rodriguez first pitched Howard in April, before the Access Hollywood tape placed Trump’s treatment of women in the national spotlight.
According to the authors, Davidson texted Howard that afternoon, writing “Trump is f*cked,” with Howard replying, “Wave the white flag. It’s over people!”
What followed were days of frantic negotiations, after Howard admitted that his boss, Trump pal David Pecker, "... likely will pay."
At that point Trump fixer, attorney Michael Cohen, and campaign aide Hope Hicks were brought into the fray.
"On that Saturday night in London, Cohen had a conference call with Hicks and Trump, followed by a call with Hicks alone. Hicks had heard from another campaign aide that a rumor was circulating of another tape, this one of Trump cavorting with prostitutes in Moscow during a trip there for the Miss Universe pageant in 2013. Hicks had been told that TMZ might have access to the tape, and she knew that Cohen was close to Harvey Levin, the gossip outlet’s founder," the report states. "The Moscow tape was bad, but it was just a rumor. Cohen had a more immediate problem. He learned from Pecker and Howard that Daniels was still shopping her story. Cohen, Pecker, and Howard exchanged a series of calls after Cohen got off the phone with Hicks. "
As negotiations began, Howard was told the price for Daniels' story was $250K, with Rodriguez insisting that multiple outlets were bidding on it -- which turned out to not be true.
“'Woman wants 120k. Has offers from Mail and GMA want her to talk and do lie detector live. I know the denials were made in the past—but this story is true. I can lock it on publication now to shut down the media chatter and we can assess next steps thereafter. Ok?'" Howard texted. "'We can’t pay 120k,' Pecker texted back. Howard realized that Daniels would be Cohen and Trump’s problem now," the report continues.
According to the authors, "Three days after a video of Trump talking about grabbing women by their genitals entered the public domain, Cohen and Davidson had a deal. Cohen reluctantly agreed to match the offer he believed Daniels had from another company, and, in return, Daniels would sign a contract barring her from discussing her alleged one-night stand with Trump. American Media’s payment to Karen McDougal and involvement in the Stormy Daniels deal would bring the publisher to the brink of criminal prosecution by federal authorities in Manhattan. But Pecker, Howard and American Media avoided charges by cooperating with the federal prosecutors, who used their information against Michael Cohen."
"Howard acknowledged the personal risk he had taken in helping Trump, in a series of previously unreported text messages sent on election night," the reports states before noting that the editor indulged in some dark -- but possibly appropriate -- humor on election night.
“At least if he wins, I’ll be pardoned for electoral fraud,” Howard texted.
You can read more here.