National Enquirer publisher David Pecker has been subpoenaed for financial records in the Michael Cohen probe, the Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday evening.
Manhattan federal prosecutors are seeking more information about the Enquirer’s payment of $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who has alleged she had an affair with President Trump from 2006 to 2007.
The White House has said in earlier media statements that Mr. Trump has denied the affair.
American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer paid Ms. McDougal for exclusive rights to her story, but never published it. The company claimed the payment was not to kill the story about her affair with Mr. Trump, but rather for exclusive rights to any relationship she had with a married man and two years worth of fitness columns.
According to the Journal, prosecutors are searching for evidence that Mr. Cohen, the president’s personal attorney, coordinated with American Media to negotiate the pact with Ms. McDougal. The paper is also reporting that phone records showed frequent contact between Mr. Cohen and Mr. Pecker around the time the McDougal deal was being negotiated. Both Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen are good friends with the National Enquirer’s publisher.
Prosecutors are also looking into a $130,000 payment Mr. Cohen brokered to Stephanie Clifford, better known by her adult-film moniker, Stormy Daniels, just days before the 2016 election. The agreement barred her from speaking publicly about her alleged affair with Mr. Trump, which he also denied.
“American Media Inc., has, and will continue to, comply with any and all requests that do not jeopardize or violate its protected sources or materials pursuant to our first amendment rights,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.
Mr. Cohen is under investigation for campaign finance violations and bank fraud. Federal investigators raided his home, office and hotel room in April seizing financial records and other documents.