The Slatest

Trump Has Implied He Controls the National Enquirer. It Just Accused Paul Manafort of “Betraying His Country.”

First to know!

Screenshot/National Enquirer

It’s been known for a while that National Enquirer CEO David Pecker is a Trump supporter/ally, and the tabloid often ran smear stories about Trump’s opponents during the 2016 campaign. During his recent feud with MSNBC Morning Joe hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, Trump seemed to suggest that he has influence over the Enquirer’s editorial operations:

The tweet more or less confirmed a New York magazine report that the White House used the threat of a sensational Enquirer story about Brzezinski and Scarborough having an affair as leverage to persuade them to cover Trump more positively.

Wednesday, meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that the FBI conducted a Russia investigation–related raid in July on former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort’s home in Virginia. Hours after the Post story broke, the Enquirer went public with … a story about Manafort having an affair. Leaving aside the details of the alleged illicit relationship, which don’t sound particularly relevant to anyone outside the Manafort family, one particular Enquirer passage is worth noting:

So, six weeks after Trump seemingly admitted that he can use National Enquirer stories as leverage in personal disputes, the Enquirer has published a sensational attack on an individual who may (may!) possess incriminating information about Trump-Russia collusion. The story even suggests in vague terms that this individual betrayed America—by collaborating with a foreign power, perhaps?—but did so without Trump’s knowledge.

Interesting. VERY interesting. (Maybe. Who knows?)