Published by Newsweek and written by Tufayel Ahmed 10/16/19
Amid behind-the-scenes details of his explosive reporting on Harvey Weinstein’s alleged sexual misconduct, Ronan Farrow’s new book Catch and Kill: Lies, Spies and a Conspiracy to Protect Predators claims that American Media Inc. (AMI), the former publisher of the National Enquirer, tried to help Donald Trump bury allegations he raped a teenager in 1994.
Farrow claims in the book that AMI CEO David Pecker was in close contact with Trump when the rape allegations were made public in a 2016 lawsuit, and that then-National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard assured Trump’s personal lawyer at the time, Michael Cohen, “that they would track down the woman with the rape allegation and see what they could do about her.” An AMI spokesperson told Newsweek Tuesday that Farrow’s claims are “completely untrue.”
AMI has been accused in the past of purchasing potentially damaging stories about Trump in order to keep them from becoming public—a practice known in the industry as “catch and kill.” Last December, AMI admitted that in 2016 it made a $150,000 payment “in concert” with Trump’s election campaign to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who allegedly had an affair with Trump a decade earlier. The publisher made the pact with McDougal “in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election,” the U.S. Attorney’s Office said.
At the crux of the lawsuit filed against Trump in the lead-up to the 2016 presidential election were claims that Trump raped a woman when she was 13 years old in 1994. At the time, Trump’s lawyer Alan Garten responded to the lawsuit saying that the allegations are “categorically untrue.”
The anonymous plaintiff—identified only as “Katie Johnson” in an initial legal filing that was dismissed in California, and “Jane Doe” in two subsequent legal filings in New York—said that she was raped by Trump during a party hosted by the now-deceased pedophile Jeffrey Epstein at his New York City apartment. In the third and final lawsuit, Doe alleged she had numerous sexual encounters with Trump and Epstein at the latter’s parties and said she was also raped by Epstein, as BuzzFeed News reported at the time.
Among the lurid details of the lawsuit, Jane Doe alleged Trump tied her to a bed, “forcibly raped” her and threatened her and her family with physical harm, if not death, if she told anyone about the assault. “I understood that Mr. Trump and Mr. Epstein knew that I was 13 years old,” Jane Doe wrote in an affidavit.
Farrow alleges that after the suit was filed in September 2016, Enquirer editor Howard and Trump lawyer Cohen were in contact frequently. (Cohen was sentenced to three years in prison last December on charges including campaign finance violations for his part in hush payments to McDougal and adult film star Stormy Daniels.)
“There was no opportunity to buy this story,” Farrow writes, claiming that AMI chief Pecker—a longtime friend of Trump’s—only found out about the lawsuit after it was filed.Before Proposing to Melania, Trump Engaged in ‘Wave’ of Alleged Touching
Still, Farrow says, Howard, now chief content officer at AMI, tried to use his influence to convince Lisa Bloom, a power attorney who agreed to represent Jane Doe, to drop her client.
In November 2016, just days before the presidential election, Bloom suddenly announced a press conference with Jane Doe had been canceled, saying Doe had become frightened after receiving death threats. Two days later, Doe’s lead attorney, Thomas Meager, filed to dismiss the case. Jane Doe has not been heard from since.
Speaking to Newsweek Tuesday, Bloom said that while the Enquirer editor “did tell me he thought Jane Doe lacked credibility … that wasn’t the reason she asked her other attorney to drop her case.”
“After we received numerous death threats and my law firm’s website and emails were hacked, she did not want to go forward,” Bloom added.
Bloom also said that she did not enter any agreements with AMI on Doe’s behalf. “I represented Ms. Doe for free and there was never any discussion of money or settlement as I strongly believed her allegations should be made public given that Donald Trump was running for president at that time.”
Paul Tweed, an attorney for Howard, told Newsweek: “We have advised Mr. Howard to make no further comment regarding the book at this stage, while all his legal remedies in appropriate jurisdictions are being considered.”
An AMI spokesperson said: “Mr. Farrow’s narrative is driven by unsubstantiated allegations from questionable sources and while these stories may be dramatic, they are completely untrue.”
*** Due to my son’s medical issues which will keep me at home, I will be unable to go out into the streets of Atlanta to report on stories. However, I will share important news stories from other sources until he is better which may be months.