Federal prosecutors have subpoenaed the publisher of the National Inquirer as part of their probe into Michael Cohen’s business dealings, including the hush money payments he brokered with women who claimed to have slept with Donald Trump.
The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday that officials in the Southern District of New York want information from American Media Inc. about the $150,000 August 2016 payment they made to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal to catch-and-kill a story about her alleged affair with the President.
Specifically, prosecutors are searching for evidence that Cohen coordinated with American Media to negotiate this arrangement, sources familiar with the matter told the Journal.
In a statement to the newspaper, AMI said: “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.”
Both Cohen and Trump are close friends with AMI chairman and CEO David Pecker. A “person familiar with the matter” told the Journal that phone records showed frequent contact between Cohen and Pecker at the time the deal with McDougal was being negotiated.
Prosecutors are also looking into the $130,000 payment Cohen brokered to adult film star Stormy Daniels days before the 2016 election to keep her from speaking publicly about her alleged sexual liaison with Trump.
Cohen is under investigation for possible campaign finance violations, bank fraud, and other financial crimes.
This post has been updated.