Donald Trump attempted to buy up all the dirt on him collected by the National Enquirer, it has been claimed.
The billionaire businessman and his then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, allegedly planned to purchase potentially damaging stories about him from the tabloid and its parent company American Media Inc.
The information on Trump dates back to the 1980s and is thought to including stories about his alleged affairs and lawsuits.
However, plans to buy up the dirt were never finalised, according to The New York Times .
Lawyers for President Trump and Cohen, and representatives for AMI, declined to comment to the newspaper.
Last week, it emerged that AMI Chief Executive David Pecker kept a safe full of documents outlining deals with Trump, including records of hush-money it handled to quash stories.
The revelation came as a former Trump employee released a copy of the ‘catch-and-kill contract he signed gagging him from discussing his boss’ alleged affair which resulted in a love child.
Former Trump World Tower doorman Dino Sajudin claims he was paid $30,000 not to go public with a salacious story about the now-US President fathering an illegitimate child with one of his employees .
Sajudin was paid by AMI, the publisher of the National Enquirer, for exclusive rights to a “rumour” he had heard about Trump’s alleged affair with a 29-year-old housekeeper.
The Enquirer never published the story, claiming they had spent four weeks trying to verify the claims, but had been unable to do so.
Now Mr Sajudin has released from his contract after discussions with AMI, his lawyer told CNN .
The contract, obtained exclusively by CNN , appears to have been signed on November 15, 2015.
It states that AMI has exclusive rights to Mr Sajudin’s story, giving no other detail except for “source shall provide AMI with information regarding Donald Trump’s illegitimate child…”
The contract also states that Mr Sajudin must pay AMI $1million if he were to breach the terms and conditions of the agreement.
Lawyer Marc Held told CNN: “Mr Sajudin has been unable to discuss the circumstances regarding his deal with American Media Inc. and the story that he sold to them, due to a significant financial penalty.
“Just recently, AMI released Mr Sajudin from the terms of his agreement and he is now able to speak about his personal experience with them, as well as his story, which is now known to be one of the ‘catch and kill’ pieces.
“Mr Sajudin hopes the truth will come out in the very near future.”
Details of the catch-and-kill contract emerged shortly after AMI CEO Pecker, a longtime friend of Trump, was granted immunity in an investigation involving lawyer Michael Cohen.
Cohen said that Trump directed him to arrange a $150,000 payment to former Playboy model Karen McDougal and a $130,000 payment to adult-film actress Stormy Daniels , whose real name is Stephanie Clifford.
Such payments could be considered illegal campaign contributions under federal election law, according to experts.
The National Enquirer was involved in making the payments, according to news reports.
AMI’s chief content officer, Dylan Howard, has also been granted immunity, Vanity Fair magazine reported.
Experts said the deals were a sign Weisselberg, Pecker and Howard faced criminal exposure because the government did not grant immunity lightly.
AMI and the National Enquirer has been accused of paying for – and then sitting on – other embarrassing stories about the US President in so-called “catch and kill” operations.
In February, former Playboy model Karen McDougal claimed to have been paid $130,000 for her story of a nine-month affair with Trump, which was never published.
A White House spokesman said the President had denied having a relationship with Ms McDougal and branded the story “more fake news.”
The National Enquirer told the New Yorker they hadn’t published the story because they did not find it credible.
But the New Yorker highlighted the US tabloid practice of “catch and kill” operations, where publishers pay for exclusive stories and then bury them.
As US media outlets prepared to run stories about ex-doorman Mr Sajudin’s payoff last night, RadarOnline, which is also published by American Media Inc, published details of the love child allegation.
They confirmed Mr Sajudin had been paid $30,000 for the story, and offered $500 advance payment dependent on him passing a polygraph test.
Mr Sajudin passed the test.
Last year, the National Enquirer published stories claiming Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died of natural causes, had been assassinated by a “$2,000 a night hooker”.
In 2015, they published lurid claims about Hillary Clinton ’s “secret lesbian lifestyle”, adding a long list of conquests including “a beauty in her early 30s who has often traveled with Hillary; a popular TV and movie star; the daughter of a top government official; and a stunning model who got a career boost after allegedly sleeping with Hillary.”
And during the Presidential Primary before the 2016 election, they published an article linking candidate Ted Cruz ’s father Rafael to the JFK assassination.
But the tabloid’s editor in chief Howard claims they chose not to run the Trump love child rumour because they were unable to prove it.
He said: “When we realized we would be unable to publish, and other media outlets approached the source about his tale, we released Sajudin from the exclusivity clause that had accompanied his $30,000 payment, freeing him to tell his story to whomever he wanted.
“Many organizations have since tried … including The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Associated Press
“The latest is Ronan Farrow from The New Yorker, who is calling our staff, and seems to think this is another example of how The ENQUIRER, by supposedly ‘catching and killing’ stories about President Trump is a threat to national security.”
He added, “We’re flattered by this attention, and wish that it were true. Unfortunately, however, Dino Sajudin is one fish that swam away.”