The payment came eight months before the tabloid paid $150,000 to former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal, and it raises new questions about how the National Enquirer and attorney Michael Cohen fought to protect Trump's reputation during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Cohen is now under investigation by Mueller's office for his ties to the Trump campaign, which is alleged to have conspired with Russian officials to win the 2016 election.
On Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation raided Cohen's hotel room and office looking for information about the McDougal and Daniels payouts, Trump's infamous Access Hollywood tape, and communications between Cohen, Trump, Pecker, and AMI's chief content officer Dylan Howard. The action taken by the U.S. Attorney's office for the Southern District of NY came after a referral from Special Counselor Robert Mueller's team to the Justice Department for potential crimes committed by Cohen that was out of the scope of the Russian Federation probe.
Below are parallels between the Sajudin deal and what we knew already, along with some eyebrow-raising details. Reporters at A.M.I. had spent weeks investigating the allegations, and Sajudin had passed a lie-detector test, during which he testified that high-level Trump employees, including Trump's head of security, Matthew Calamari, had told him the story.
The Enquirer staffers, all with years of experience negotiating source contracts, said the abrupt end to reporting combined with a binding, seven-figure penalty to stop the tipster from talking to anyone led them to conclude that this was a so-called "catch and kill.".
The Radar story also quoted Enquirer editor and AMI executive Dylan Howard, who, according to Farrow, met with journalists and an attorney from the Associated Press last summer as the AP was investigating the matter.
Six former A.M.I. employees told me that [AMI Publisher and Trump friend David] Pecker routinely makes catch-and-kill arrangements like the one reached with McDougal. Two A.M.I. employees told me that they'd never seen such a release during their time at the company. "We never printed a word about Trump without his approval". 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.
Per Farrow's New Yorker report, Dino Sajudin signed a contract with American Media in late 2015, agreeing to become a source and accept $30K for exclusive rights to the information he had been told - that Trump may have fathered a love child in the late '80s. The sizable payout for an unsubstantiated rumor also raised eyebrows.
McDougal, similarly, said she was surprised by the scope of her agreement.
Enquirer staffers, however, told The New Yorker and the Associated Press that reporters were pulled off the story, which claimed Trump had fathered a love-child nearly three decades ago.
AMI executive Dylan Howard, who now serves as the Enquirer's chief content officer, told reporters last summer that executives supposedly made the payment to Sajudin in order to secure the tip, which he said would have sold "hundreds of thousands" of magazines. Regardless of the veracity of Sajudin's claims, legal experts said that A.M.I.'s payment to Sajudin is significant because it establishes the company's pattern of buying and burying stories that could be damaging to Trump during the Presidential campaign.