NEW YORK (AP) – The National Enquirer newspaper was sold to former head of the airport's newspaper kiosk company, Hudson News, after a turbulent year in which the tabloid was accused to bury stories that could have hurt Donald Trump's presidential campaign in 2016.
The owner of Tabloid, American Media, announced Thursday that he was considering selling the supermarket to James Cohen. The financial conditions were not revealed as part of the deal, which included two other American Media tabloids, the Globe and the National Examiner.
American Media announced last week its intention to pull out of the tabloid to focus on its other activities, including its teen brand and broadcast platforms.
Federal prosecutors in Manhattan last year agreed not to sue American Media in exchange for the company's cooperation in a campaign financing investigation. This investigation ultimately culminated in a three-year prison term for Trump's former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for campaign violations, among other indictments.
American Media has confessed to having paid $ 150,000 to keep Playboy's former model, Karen McDougal, about an alleged affair with Trump in order to help him in his campaign. Trump denied a case.
The sale would end a long-standing relationship between the National Enquirer and Trump. Under the aegis of David Pecker, CEO of American Media, the tabloid has buried for years potentially embarrassing stories about Trump and other privileged celebrities by buying them rights and never publishing according to a practice called "catch-and-kill".
According to Associated Press, last year, Pecker kept a safe in Enquirer's office, which contained documents on buried stories, including those involving Trump.
That James Cohen has allegiances to Trump is not clear. While he was a registered Republican until 2017, according to Nexis' records, he gave Republicans and Democrats. This included $ 17,300 in 2016 for a branch of the Democratic National Committee and $ 2,500 for the Republican National Committee in 2012.
The news of the sale comes two months after Amazon chief Jeff Bezos publicly accused the National Enquirer of trying to blackmail him by threatening to publish explicit photos of him.
An American Media lawyer has denied the facts, but has threatened to incur considerable legal costs by canceling the American Media's non-suing agreement in the secrecy case. The AP reported that federal prosecutors were investigating whether the publisher had violated the terms of the agreement, which included the promise not to break the laws in the future.
The Bezos charge comes at a difficult time for American Media. It has financed several recent acquisitions with borrowed money and is suffering from heavy debt. American Media said the deal with Cohen would help reduce the amount to be repaid, leaving him with $ 355 million of debt.
The Washington Post, which previously announced the sale, said Cohen was going to shell out $ 100 million.
Cohen's family had been running a magazine and newspaper distributor for decades before his father moved to newsstands in 1980, starting with one at LaGuardia Airport. Before his death in 2012, the father had opened more than 600 stores.
After the death, the niece of James Cohen claimed that her uncle had stolen her inheritance. She lost the case.
The family sold a majority stake in the chain about a decade ago. The company now belongs to Dufry, a duty-free operator whose James Cohen is the largest shareholder.
Cohen still owns a magazine and newspaper distributor called Hudson News Distributors. In addition, he runs a real estate developer and an publishing house, which owns Gallery, an art and design magazine.
Cohen has reportedly been involved in deals with American Media. According to the New York Times, Cohen invested in 2011 in the US edition of the company, OK !, a British tabloid.