One name that’s turned up frequently in news coverage of women who have accused President Donald Trump of extramarital affairs has been David Pecker.
That’s usually been to note that the company headed by the longtime Trump friend — American Media, Inc., publisher of The National Enquirer — paid Trump accuser and former Playboy model Karen McDougal $150,000 for exclusive rights to her story, then didn’t publish it.
According to reports this past week, federal prosecutors in New York subpoenaed Pecker and another company executive this spring in their investigation of longtime Trump lawyer Michael D. Cohen.
Trump isn’t the only prominent politician whom Pecker, the chairman and CEO of American Media, has longtime ties to. Pecker is a longtime supporter of Mayor Rahm Emanuel, dating to Emanuel’s first run for Congress.
Pecker and American Media have given $33,200 to the mayor’s campaign fund since 2010, including $11,100 late last year and $5,600 early this year. Pecker and his wife also gave $12,000 to Emanuel’s congressional races, records show.
Emanuel also spent months when he was working for the investment firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. trying to put together a business deal with Pecker, according to a Pecker associate and Adam Collins, the mayor’s chief City Hall spokesman.
According to Collins, the mayor “never worked for Mr. Pecker, nor was he ever paid by him.
“When he was in the private sector, for a few months, the mayor explored a potential business agreement with Mr. Pecker,” Collins says, “but it did not ultimately come to fruition.”
Declining to provide details, Collins says he believes that occurred when Emanuel worked for the investment firm between 1999 and 2002.
At Wasserstein, the future mayor made millions off investment deals, including one with Gov. Bruce Rauner’s private-equity firm. The money gave Emanuel a cushion to run for office after working as a White House aide under President Bill Clinton and as a Democrat Party fund-raiser.
Pecker declined to comment.
According to the Pecker associate — speaking on the condition of not being named — when Pecker headed magazine publisher Hachette Filipacchi in the early 1990s, “he was asked to help secure Maya Angelou for a fund-raiser,” a charitable event hosted by Elle magazine.
The “agency he contacted to get to Ms. Angelou” — the poet and author who died in 2014 — “put him in contact” with mayoral brother Ari Emanuel, a powerful Hollywood agent, “to coordinate it.”
“David met Ari and Rahm at that event,” the Pecker associate says. “Ari eventually started working with Hachette by representing its magazine editors on the talent side.”
A 1995 Variety magazine article called Ari Emanuel and Pecker “close.” Earlier this year, The New York Times reported Ari Emanuel introduced Pecker to an adviser for a member of the Saudi Arabian royal family so Pecker could pursue business opportunities in the Middle East.
While Pecker was at Hachette, his associate says, “He used Rahm, who was working as a banker at the time, as an adviser on Hachette business.”
Though Rahm Emanuel and Trump both have long ties to Pecker, and Ari Emanuel has represented Trump as an agent, the mayor has had “no dealings — personal or professional — with Trump,” Collins says. “In fact, they met for the first time after Trump was president-elect.”
Rahm Emanuel was first elected to Congress in 2002 and announced in 2008 he was resigning to be President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff. Emanuel was elected in 2011 to his first term as mayor, when Mayor Richard M. Daley retired.
At Ari Emanuel’s request, Trump gave Emanuel’s campaign $50,000 in 2010.
Ahead of the November 2016 electoral showdown between Trump and Hillary Clinton, American Media made the $150,000 payment to McDougal for, among other things, rights to the story about what she said was her affair with the married Trump.
The story never ran in the Enquirer, whose contract appeared to bar McDougal from making public her account. Trump has said he didn’t have an affair with her.
She sued American Media in March, accusing it, Trump attorney and “fixer” Cohen and others of trying to keep her story secret so it wouldn’t harm Trump’s election chances. The suit said the “object” of the deal with McDougal “was to make an illegal in-kind corporate donation” to Trump’s campaign.
The case was settled in April, with McDougal released from her contract.
Investigators looking into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election also are reportedly delving into alleged affairs between Trump and McDougal and Trump and former porn star Stormy Daniels.