American Media Inc., the publisher of National Enquirer, has been subpoenaed by federal authorities for records pertaining to the Enquirer’s $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for her story about an alleged affair with Donald Trump, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The subpoena is seeking the information as part of its criminal investigation into former Trump attorney Michael Cohen.
The investigation seeks to determine any possible efforts to quash information that might have been damaging to Trump during his presidential campaign. Those potential efforts would include Cohen working with American Media to pay McDougal for her story and not publish it.
McDougal has alleged that she had an affair lasting nearly a year, starting in 2006. Trump has denied having an affair with McDougal.
Prosecutors are looking into whether American Media’s payment to McDougal ran afoul of campaign-finance laws or other types of laws, according to the Journal.
American Media, which has denied paying for McDougal’s story in order to suppress it, is not accused of wrongdoing. In a statement published by the Journal, the publisher said that it “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.”
In April, McDougal settled a lawsuit with American Media, in an agreement that she said freed her up to tell her story about Trump.
“I am pleased to have reached a settlement with AMI on my own terms, which restores to me the rights to my life story and frees me from this contract that I was misled into signing nearly two years ago,” McDougal said in a statement at the time.
Also in April, the New York Times reported that the FBI had raided Cohen’s office, collecting records on topics including Cohen’s $130,000 payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.
Daniels has also said that she had an affair with Trump, which Trump has denied.
Daniels has sued to be released from a non-disclosure agreement she said she signed in relation to the alleged affair, arguing that it is invalid because Trump never signed it. Cohen contends that Daniels must pay up to $20 million for repeatedly violating the agreement.