The publisher of The National Enquirer reportedly paid a former Trump building doorman to keep him quiet about a rumor regarding Donald Trump’s sex life.
The New Yorker and the Associated Press published stories saying that National Enquirer publisher American Media Inc., paid $30,000 in late 2015 to Dino Sajudin, a former doorman at a Trump building to prevent him from publicizing a rumor that Donald Trump fathered a child out of wedlock. Sajudin told the tabloid he had heard Trump fathered a child with a Trump employee in the late 1980s, according to the reports.
In a practice called "catch and kill," the publication bought the exclusive rights to Sajudin’s story and then buried it as a favor to Trump, the reports said.
Ronan Farrow, the author of the New Yorker story, told CNN’s "New Day" on Thursday that the order to stop the reporting came from David Pecker, the publisher of the National Enquirer and Trump’s friend.
"This is about the most powerful people in the country having the ability to silence and change the news narrative at will," Farrow said. "I think the public should know that."
AMI also reportedly paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 in August 2016 for her story about a nine-month affair with Trump. The deal also reportedly included a deal to publish regular columns by McDougal on aging and fitness. The National Enquirer never ran her story either and only ran a small portion of the columns that were agreed to. AMI has said that McDougall did not produce the columns, according to the New Yorker. Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal.
"This establishes a pattern now," said Farrow.
The New Yorker reported that soon after it contacted AMI for comment on the story, the company’s celebrity gossip website, Radar Online, published its own story about the scandal and the payment to Sajudin. Radar’s story said that The Enquirer decided not to publish because it determined the rumor of the affair was untrue. It said it then released Sajudin from the terms of the contract that stopped him from talking with other media outlets.
But The New Yorker and the Associated Press both talked to staffers of The National Enquirer who said they were told not to pursue the story even after Sajudin gave them the tip. The New Yorker and the AP said they were not able to confirm the facts behind the rumor, and that members of the family involved in the story denied it to the two outlets. Neither named the woman or the child.
Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen, has separately said he paid $130,000 to Stephanie Clifford, a porn actress who performs under the name Stormy Daniels, to remain silent about her alleged affair with Trump. Federal authorities are apparently investigating that payment, having executed search warrants this week for evidence about that payment. Trump has denied having an affair with Clifford.
AMI and the White House did not immediately respond to requests for comment. CNN was not able to reach Sajudin.