The sordid reality television show that is the lying, philandering, performative life of Donald J. Trump took another tawdry turn for the worse today. Trump, who has been married three times, had numerous alleged extramarital affairs, and even admitted to sexual assault on tape, is a vile, lecherous old man chronically incapable of being faithful.
Now, The Associated Press reports that Trump may have fathered an illegitimate child with one of his mistresses. The company that owns The National Enquirer — the disreputable tabloid whose owner is a personal friend of Donald Trump and which often runs flattering stories about the president — paid $30,000 to an individual who used to work as a doorman at a Trump property in New York City for his story.
The payment, made eight months before the company shelled out $150,000 to buy the silence of a former Playboy model alleging she had an affair with Trump, bought the exclusive rights to the doorman’s story, who claimed he knew about a child fathered by Trump with someone other than his wife.
The AP rigorously investigated the story and reviewed a confidential contract as well as interviewed dozens of people who work at The Enquirer or who used to work there.
The doorman, Dino Sajudin, signed over rights to the story “in perpetuity.” Specifically, he heard a rumor that Trump had a child with one of his employees at Trump World Tower, a property located near the headquarters of the UN. If Sajudin broke the gag order, he would have been liable to pay $1 million in restitution.
The Enquirer administered a polygraph test to see if he had learned of the rumor in the manner in which he claimed. He passed.
Michael Cohen, Trump’s longstanding attorney and friend who had his offices in Trump Tower raided by the FBI earlier this week, admitted to The AP that he spoke to The Enquirer and discussed Sajudin’s rumor with the magazine while they were working on the deal. Cohen claims he was working simply as a spokesman for Donald Trump and that he was ignorant of the payment beforehand.
Cohen is already in hot water for the $130,000 he paid to adult film star Stormy Daniels for her to remain silent about an alleged affair she had with Trump. Reportedly, the raid of Cohen’s office was in part a search for documents pertaining to the payment, given that it may have been a violation of campaign finance laws.
The Enquirer claims that the payment to Sajudin was not to silence him right before the election, but that rather they hoped the story would turn out to be true so they could sell “hundreds of thousands” of magazines.
RadarOnline, a sister publication of the tabloid, covered elements of the Sajudin payoff yesterday. RadarOnline claims that The Enquirer spent a month investigating the story but was unable to verify its veracity in the end so they spiked the story. They went on to release the doorman from his contract after Trump won the election and The Wall Street Journal started asking questions about it. While this version of events is certainly possible, it’s also possible that The Enquirer, which often serves as little more than a propaganda rag for Trump, paid for the story so they could spike it until he won the White House.
The AP’s reporting adds credence to the latter possibility. Four staffers at The Enquirer told The AP that in fact, they were ordered by their bosses to drop the story while still hunting down convincing leads.
But four longtime Enquirer staffers directly familiar with the episode challenged Howard’s version of events. They said they were ordered by top editors to stop pursuing the story before completing potentially promising reporting threads.
“They said the publication didn’t pursue standard Enquirer reporting practices, such as exhaustive stake-outs or tabloid tactics designed to prove paternity. In 2008, the Enquirer helped bring down presidential hopeful John Edwards in part by digging through a dumpster and retrieving material to do a DNA test that indicated he had fathered a child with a mistress, according to a former staffer,” write Jake Pearson and Jeff Horotwitz of The Associated Press.
The staffers said the spiking of the story appeared to be “catch and kill.” That is to say, the process by which a publication pays for a story with the intention to never run it, often as a favor to a powerful person.
The woman at the center of the scandal who allegedly bore Trump’s child denies that she ever had an affair with the real estate mogul, although she certainly wouldn’t be the first woman to deny such a rumor. Stormy Daniels herself originally denied her affair before later reversing herself and alleging that someone came to physically threaten her into silence.
Whether or not the American people ever get the full story behind these allegations, one thing is clear. Our current president is awash in more scandals than any leader in living memory. He has degraded his office and made our country a laughingstock. He has to go.