National Enquirer Publisher David Pecker Admits to Karen McDougal Hush Payment to Keep Alleged Trump Affair Hidden

Hours after Michael Cohen, U.S. President Donald Trump's former attorney, was sentenced to three years in prison for charges, including arranging hush-money payments to two women, a national media outlet has admitted to their role in the scheme.

American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, admitted Wednesday afternoon that the tabloid paid former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for her story of an alleged affair with Trump and then declined to publish the article.

The Washington Post reports that federal prosecutors announced Wednesday that there would be no legal action toward the company. An agreement was reached between prosecutors and American Media Inc. in September, but became public after Cohen's sentencing.

In the agreement, AMI said it will continue to work with prosecutors and admit to paying McDougal.

Cohen and National Enquirer publisher David Pecker met with "at least" one other member of Trump's campaign in August 2015, the Post said.

"At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate's relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. . . . Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories," the agreement reads.

McDougal was the first target for AMI, though the company was allegedly contacted by Stormy Daniels agent to let them know Daniels, who also claims to have had an affair with Trump, was about to sell her story to another media outlet. Pecker and National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard contacted Cohen, who eventually arranged for Daniels to be paid $130,000 to keep her silence about the affair.

The Post reports that Pecker and Trump have a relationship that stretches over decades, with Pecker working with the president in 1997 to launch a magazine, Trump Style, that was distributed at Mar-a-Lago.

Howard had previously denied that Trump influenced the editorial decisions of the National Enquirer saying in June that the president "has never been consulted on editorial decisions — or by himself or through intermediaries requested an article be written on a given subject or angled in a certain way."

However, an earlier report by the Post, citing people with knowledge of the matter, states that Howard and Pecker regularly sent magazine covers and articles related to Trump or his political opponents to Cohen ahead of publication.