Is Donald Trump Worried About Being Blackmailed?

David Pecker, owner of the National Enquirer and its infamous safe.Jennifer Podis/The Palm Beach Post/ZUMAPRESS

Last week we all heard about “the safe,” the legendary repository of decades of dirt on Donald Trump that had been dug up and then faithfully reburied by the National Enquirer. Today, the New York Times reports that Trump has always been interested in more than just paying hush money via the Enquirer to women he’s had affairs with. He wants the whole safe:

He and his lawyer at the time, Michael D. Cohen, devised a plan to buy up all the dirt on Mr. Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on him, dating back to the 1980s, according to several of Mr. Trump’s associates….“It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know,” Mr. Cohen said on the recording.

The move by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen indicated just how concerned they were about all the information amassed by the company, American Media, and its chairman, David Pecker, a loyal Trump ally of two decades who has cooperated with investigators….There was perennial talk about American Media’s business troubles. And Mr. Trump appeared to take a world-wearier view of the wisdom of leaving his sensitive personal secrets in someone else’s hands:

“Maybe he gets hit by a truck,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Pecker in a conversation with Mr. Cohen, musing about an unfortunate mishap befalling his good friend.

Nobody knows what’s in the safe, and given Trump’s reputation it’s possible it contains nothing that could really do him any harm. Then again, it might contain plenty. At the very least, there’s evidence that Trump was and is worried about it.

A question for Republicans: How nervous are you with the knowledge that reams of blackmail material might exist that could be used against the president of the United States? And keep in mind that this is material that’s merely locked in an ordinary safe—no fancy encryption, no firewall, no passwords that need to be hacked—and, for all anyone knows, has already been stolen? Does that bother you?

It seems to bother Trump.

MORE HARD-HITTING JOURNALISM

In 2014, before Donald Trump announced his run for president, we knew we had to do something different to address the fundamental challenge facing journalism: how hard-hitting reporting that can hold the powerful accountable can survive as the bottom falls out of the news business.

Being a nonprofit, we started planning The Moment for Mother Jones, a special campaign to raise $25 million for key investments to make Mother Jones the strongest watchdog it can be. Five years later, readers have stepped up and contributed an astonishing $23 million in gifts and future pledges. This is an incredible statement from the Mother Jones community in the face of huge threats—both economic and political—against the free press.

Read more about The Moment and see what we've been able to accomplish thanks to readers' incredible generosity so far, and please join them today. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar, up to $500,000 total, during this critical moment for journalism.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.