Did Trump Officials Try To Coerce The Morning Joe Hosts With A National Enquirer Threat? [UPDATED]

UnknownIn the aftermath of the vicious tweets against MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski, there was an intriguing allegation that three top Trump Administration officials called Joe Scarborough and threatened that, if he did not call Trump to apologize for his negative comments, the National Enquirer would run a hit piece on the hosts.  The allegation is deeply troubling and, while it would not necessarily constitute a crime, it would raise a serious question of abuse of office in the use of staff to convey such an alleged threat.  With all of the understandable passion following the tweets. this is a very significant allegation and one that was not previously disclosed. It has not appeared in both print and on air by the hosts, who are obviously sticking by this chilling account of what they say was a campaign to intimidate them.  The White House has denied the allegations and said that Scarborough has misrepresented his call to the White House.

Trump has a close friendship with National Enquirer’s chief executive officer David Pecker and the publication was accused of publishing hit pieces against Trump’s opponents like Ted Cruz during the 2016 campaign.

One of the officials have been identified as Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner.  

National_Enquirer_(cover)The couple wrote in the Washington Post that “This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked.  We ignored their desperate pleas.” Later they expanded on the allegation on-air:

“We got a call that ‘hey the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story about you guys.’ And they said ‘if you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage then he would pick up the phone and basically spike this story’ . . .I had three people at the very top of the administration calling me and the response was like ‘are you kidding me, I don’t know what they have, run a story, I’m not going to do it.’  The calls kept coming and they were like ‘you need to call, please call.’”

Scarborough also said that he has contemporary witnesses who were consulted after the calls:

“NBC execs knew in real time about the calls and who made them to me. That’s why Mark Kornblau wrote about contemporaneous texts. I showed him and executives as they were coming in to keep them advised.”

The allegation does not currently rise to a criminal matter, if proven. However, government officials are the subject of specific criminal provisions like extortion under 18 U.S.C. 872:

Whoever, being an officer, or employee of the United States or any department or agency thereof, or representing himself to be or assuming to act as such, under color or pretense of office or employment commits or attempts an act of extortion, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both; but if the amount so extorted or demanded does not exceed $1,000, he shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.

Such provisions convey the heightened danger of criminal conduct committed by those with official authority.  However, extortion is commonly prosecuted when someone is seeking the gaining of property or money.  That pecuniary interest is the key, though the threat can include harm to reputation or unfavorable government action.

Likewise, blackmail often involves efforts to secure money or financial benefits and a violation of federal law: “Whoever, under a threat of informing, or as a consideration for not informing, against any violation of any law of the United States, demands or receives any money or other valuable thing, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.”  There was no violation of any law threatened in this allegation.

There is the Abuse of Office provision that can be relevant in such a circumstance:

§ 11.448 Abuse of office.

A person acting or purporting to act in an official capacity or taking advantage of such actual or purported capacity commits a misdemeanor if, knowing that his or her conduct is illegal, he or she:

(a) Subjects another to arrest, detention, search, seizure, mistreatment, dispossession, assessment, lien or other infringement of personal or property rights; or

(b) Denies or impedes another in the exercise or enjoyment of any right, privilege, power or immunity.

Subsection (b) could apply to the right of both free speech and the free press if officials were seeking to silence critics.

There could be more potential criminal elements but the current allegation likely falls short.  While such an allegation fits more squarely with an impeachment charge as opposed to a criminal charge, it could not be more serious for a country that has always jealously protected both free speech and the free press.  If Administration officials were using their time and offices to convey threats to journalists or commentators, it would constitute a direct assault on those values.

Obviously, we should hear from the White House on the allegation. Trump has stated that it was the hosts who called him to kill the story.  They may argue that they had been called on the story and were giving the hosts a courtesy warning (not uncommon in this town). However, that would not square with the alleged “ask”: that the hosts call Trump to apologize in return for the killing of the story.  The White House maintains that it was Scarborough who called Kushner to kill the story and it was Scarborough who raised the fact that Trump was mad at him.

These are obviously strikingly different accounts.  This should be treated as a serious matter for inquiry by Congress which has oversight authority over federal offices and agencies.  Such a quip pro quo may be the stuff of an entertaining “House of Cards” episode but it is far more serious in real life when government officials, or even the President of the United States, is allegedly trying to coerce media figures into silence.  Again, there is another side to this story but I am surprised that the allegation has not attracted more attention.

What do you think?

156 thoughts on “Did Trump Officials Try To Coerce The Morning Joe Hosts With A National Enquirer Threat? [UPDATED]”

  1. Let’s see, the current POTUS attacks media debutantes, the previous two attacked whistleblowers, sovereign nations and bailed out banks that were appaerntly too big to fail while the toxic mortgages that the federal government approved soaked millions of Americans and as collective foreign policy reign cost American lives and quite frankly didn’t advance America’s best interests.
    How dare the current President attack those two beautiful people.

    1. Bailing out the banks was not a crime, the money has been paid back with interest, it was a policy. You may not agree with it but your displeasure does not make it a crime. “attacking” whistle blowers, please elaborate and spell out the criminal violation. That war was an inexcusable mess but it was sanctioned by the congress, the rule of law prevailed, even if their case was built on lies.

      The current question is not whether Trump” attacked “a “Media Debutante,” whatever that means rather the question is whether he or his representatives under his direction abused the power of their office to intimidate or otherwise threaten members of the press or ANYONE. Trivial as the opinion of Joe and Mica may be to you and me apparently it is of vital importance to trump, vital enough that just this morning , even after the possiblity of abuse of power was raised…he tweeted that he “did nothing” to stop the National Enquirer from publishing a hatchet job on the two news people. Furher confirming a very real possibility of his abuse of power in this matter.

      1. Wait until the charges are filed and the investigation if any is over. That’s the way crimal law proceedings go right? If you want to be a stickler about the law.
        Maybe, just maybe Joe S. contacted someone at the White House first after he heard about the story to ask for a favor from the President.
        Hmm. That sure changes the story doesn’t it.

    2. and bailed out banks that were appaerntly too big to fail while the toxic mortgages t

      The banks received bridge loans, which they paid back with interest. The deals the Fed and the Treasury lost money on were the conservatorships over the mortgage maws, the rescue of AIG, and the rescue of the auto industry components. The first and the last were Democratic Party clients, natch.

  2. Whether it is pathetic or whatever, it represents almost half of public opinion; that journalists doing what they do is actually of this much interest to the President of the US; and is acceptable as the mentality of this buffoon. There has never been a more pathetic person in a position of this importance. This childish behavior and preoccupation with the stupidity of tabloid tit for tat, is revered by some, sad, yugely sad.

    And before Vidocq comes in with the rain man analogy, if ever there was a rain man it is Trump, obsessing over what tabloid characters say about him and threatening to ‘go public’ about the last issue of importance in this country, if not the world, himself. What’s next?

    1. Issac, by comparing Trump to someone with ASD you have insulted millions of those who suffer from the disorder.
      He’s more a Disney maternal villain than someone with Autism.

      1. Roscoe

        I didn’t specifically mention ASD. What Trump has will probably come out with its own initials. So, I am beginning a contest here on Turley’s blog. Who ever comes up with the best acronym, to be voted on by the blog participants, will win a grand prize to be determined at a later date. Example-Narcissistic, Megalomaniac, Lying, Buffoon or NMLB. One can extol its virtues or tell it like it is.

        1. Issac, love the idea.
          How about:
          Deceiver In Chief Kleptocratic Fatuous Authoritarian Conniving Egomaniac
          I think you can figure out the acronym.

        2. Issac, as far as you not specifically mentioning ASD, you wrote:”if ever there was a rain man it is Trump, ”
          As afar as I know the only Rain Man is the one that Dustin Hoffman played in the Barry Levinson film.
          Pretty sure he was on the spectrum.

    2. There’s no need for hostile name-calling. Compared to most other people, Mr Trump is grossly mentally deficient. He was able to offset those disabilities by inheriting wealth and being able to borrow gross sums of money as a result of name recognition. Mr Bush had similar disabilities but Mr Bush was able to muster up a minimal level of social decorum which Mr Trump is unable to accomplish.

      1. Doglover – would you like to cite a source for Trump living on inherited money?

          1. Frankly, apparently you don’t understand business. Leveraging money is common. For the individual doing the leveraging it is a way to spread risk even though it reduces the ultimate profit should the investment turn out well. The other side of the leveraging coin takes on risk in the hope of making profit.

      2. Inheriting wealth How much did he inherit and how much is he worth today? What did he build?

        Obviously, you have no knowledge of these things.

        “being able to borrow gross sums of money as a result of name recognition.”

        Do you really believe that banks and investors don’t look at past performance?

        Where do you get these ideas?

        1. Foreign banks don’t so much. US banks have tightened but prior to the crash credit was easy. Trump and Kushner have also received public subsidies to develop properties.

          1. Frankly, you do realize that banks make money by loaning money, right? Chase Manhattan bank liked to loan Trump money becasue they made money off of him.

            Public subsidies: Those subsidies in NYC are open to all. They are a way to encourage certain types of development that otherwise wouldn’t be done. The city thrives off of development. Aside from the fact that NYC doesn’t always spend their money wisely what is the problem with Trump competing honestly for those subsidies?

  3. Hillary Clinton once said that anyone who can’t handle criticism without starting a tweet war has no business with the nuclear codes. She is right.

    1. Natacha, I love your post, please keep it up! It’s helping Prez Trump to keep gain momentum thus helping us citizens & MAGA.

    2. Right, Hillary Clinton who can’t even keep her emails secret. She sold our uranium to the Russians for personal profit so I am sure she would sell the codes as well.

      1. There is no evidence that her email server was ever breached.

        Why would she sell uranium to the Russians? They’ve had a huge stockpile of the stuff for decades.

        1. The Russians wanted the uranium and were willing to pay for it along with giving the Clinton foundation a lot of money while paying Bill big time for a speech. This isn’t the only time things like this were done. They have done this many times several with a big time Canadian financier and each time money went into one of their accounts.

          It doesn’t make a difference whether or not Hillary’s email account was ever breached and who would know it if those that breached it never said anything. We do know she lied about the stuff she deleted not being secret material. That also has been prove because of releases elsewhere and much of this hanky panky has been demonstrated in FOIA releases.

          If one doesn’t wish to find bad information about people they like, they will never be aware of that information. The news media selects the news they wish to print and uses selective placement. We frequently don’t know what happeed until others bring the information to the forefront forcing the main stream media to comment while spinning the news.

          My suggestion to you is that you don’t rely upon right or left wing news and go directly to FOIA requests and other sources of primary documentation. You might not like Jame’s O’Keefe’s videos or the Foia requests, but liking and knowing are two different things. You should be searching for the truth.

    3. Hillary ended the speech with the line: “And that little bit of wisdom will cost you Wall Street guys $250,000.00. Pay at the door to the State Department, please.”

    1. autumn, in other words, Holder was saying, “The jig’s up!! Cover your hind ends!!!” After what left stream media, the DNC, Comey & Lynch & others did to cover for Hillary, that would be a good message to send. False of course in that Eric said ‘unfairly’, but hey, a crook gotta do what a crook gotta do!


  4. Despite the old dying media/political parties constant massive attacks against Prez Trump & yet he & us Deplorables, AKA: Patriotic Americans have defeated, what, 17, 18 candidates plus also the Deep State American Hating Trash in the Demo/Repub party machine.

    I believe what Prez Trump is doing now is finishing off the American Hating Trash of the old dying media.

    Now this guy below, Clif High, I had never heard of him until almost a year ago & now follow his comments from time to time.

    Look at what he predicted last March. At least part of it is happening know & it’s continuing through the media system.

    Monday, March 6, 2017 11:42

    Internet data mining expert Clif High says his latest research shows the mainstream legacy media is fearful. High predicts “1/3 of our broadcast media personalities . . . those famous faces, will either be arrested or flee the country” over sex trafficking or the cover-up of it.


    (Greg Hunter) Internet data mining expert Clif High says the world is witnessing the unmasking of the so-called “Deep State” and revealing it’s long held control over humanity. High explains, “The level of complexity of humans has increased, and that was the factor that the Deep State did not take into account. They kept their ridged mindset, their ridged rules, their compartmentalization and kept everything so boxed in even they were unaware that humanity has evolved out and around their obstruction. So, the Deep State is dying simply because the knowledge of it is so prevalent. It can’t be stopped, and is growing exponentially, and, basically, the knowledge itself is going to crush the Deep State.” More,


    1. Oky1, Jolly Good shew there old boy! Or girl. 😉

      Not many seem to realize that the deep state in international. That’s where we got the phony bologna ‘Federal’ Reserve.


  5. And since Dika and Blow have ZERO credibility, this accusation against Trump means? Let’s see: Zero times zero multiplied by the square root of zero divided by zero to the zero power equals what? I think I found the answer: ZERO!

    1. Wrong. Since you take the zeroth power last the answer is one. Think about what the law of exponents implies.

      Of course that assumes you can.

      Think, that is.

      1. Actually, Ralph is right. Any number EXCEPT ZERO raised to the zeroth power is 1. But zero raised to the zeroth power is zero.

        But, you were close. That was an understandable mistake.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

        1. Squeeky, you and Ralph are wrong, although I suppose you could have been badly taught. It has to do with limits:

          For x to yth power, y non negative, write
          exp (x,y). For example,
          exp(0.5,0.5) is the square root of 2/2, = 0.707… Note that is closer to one than x=1/2 is. Now the fourth root of 1/2 is exp (0.5,0.25) = exp(0.707,0.5) = 0.84… and so on. For x positive, exp (x,y) becomes closer to one as y decreases towards zero.

          Now try this again starting from x=1/4, and then from x=1/8 and so on. Always the limit as y goes to zero is one.

          So we say that in the limit from above,
          exp (0,0)=1.

          This usually isn’t treated in high school, or even maybe college, algebra.

          1. Which simply regurgitates the notion that Zero to the zeroth power is deemed by CONSENSUS to be 1, for consistency’s sake in both limits, the binomial equation thing, and something else that I forget what it is.

            The short form of is x^0 is also x^1 /x^1, and when you are dividing powers you can subtract them, thus x^(1-1=0) = 1. But 0^0 is a different concept altogether. Because the base number is “nothing” and there is nothing you can do to nothing with nothing to make it more than nothing. You can add something to zero to make it something, or you can subtract something from zero to make it something, but if you can’t divide by zero, and get an intelligent answer, then you can not do multiplication of zero to arrive at anything either, what with division and multiplication being the same sort of thing.

            Think of it like this. There are these things which are called “imaginary numbers.” Because they do not exist. IIRC, you can use them in equations to make equations work out. But they don’t exist. There simply isn’t a square root of negative 5. But, if you square the square root of negative 5, then you get negative 5, which is a real thing, sort of.

            Similarly, zero to the zeroth power is considered to be one, by some people, because it makes equations consistently work out. But zero to the zeroth power isn’t “one.” Or even every number in infinity, if you go the 0/0 is infinity route.

            You might enjoy this.


            Squeeky Fromm
            Girl Reporter

            1. Squeeky, your writing is completely confused, but your link is a good find and explains the situation better than I can.

              Briefly, it depends on how one takes the limits and there is a canonical choice.

              By the way sso-called imaginary numbers exist and are extraordinarily useful.


            2. It’s got that angels on the head of spin feel to it. Any math that doesn’t correlate to some practical problem is just mental masturbation that matters only to that minuscule segment of the population that overthinks everything and calls it genius. Genius is the one who creates the light bulb not the poor sap who has to measure and express itse every characteristic. Btw, if numbers are so great how come you have to letters to explain them?

      2. Ahhh, DBB, so now you’re looking for a free math lessons by posing that you have knowledge when you do not? Okay, I’ll bite–but just this once. All other math lessons for you, DBB, will have to come at a price.

        I believe you’re referring to a commonly taught rule that any number to the 0 power is 1, and 0 to any power is 0. So, naturally you assume that 0 to the 0 power must be also be 1.

        But that assumption is technically incorrect. The result of 0 to the 0 power is actually “undefined” because xy as a function of 2 variables is not continuous at the origin.

        However, if you read what I wrote more carefully you would have realized that determining “what 0 to the 0 power is” actually turns out to irrelevant because the beginning part of the equation involves a multiplication by 0, so anything multiplied by 0 is 0 in any case.

  6. The MSM has so many “made up” headlines about Trump that personally I would NOT believe anything any of them said even if it was true, LOL. Suck it up MEEEEka!

  7. Liberal media can dish it out but it can’t take it.

    Finally, a true American patriot who will stand up and fight fire with fire.

    We don’t want their love.

    We don’t want their respect.

    We want their fear.

    We want their fear of genuine patriotism and the implementation of the

    authentic principles of the Founders and the Constitution they adopted.

    1. “More than 1500 children had been killed by March: UNICEF”

      Replying to @wikileaks

      The girl’s name is Walaa Hussien al-Hutroum age 9 from Sanaa. Photo April 25, 2015. More than 1500 children had been killed by March: UNICEF

      6:38 PM – 29 Jun 2017

        1. because we can take care of the refugees just fine in camps proximate to Syria, with a view to their eventual repatriation. The whole bilge about refugees is a mixture of virtue-signalling and working the Democratic Party vote farm.

          Progressives simply do not have decent and altruistic motives unless they’re the sort who pay little attention to public affairs.

  8. Another day, another scandal. Does anyone seriously believe Chump wouldn’t do this? Petty, vindictive, power-hungry, thin-skinned and pathetic are all adjectives to describe this person. How about his uneducated Slovenian wife–railing against cyber-bullying on the same day the pig she has lain under was calling a woman journalist crazy with a low IQ? Then, she turns around and defends him, claiming he’ll retaliate with 10Xs more. I know irony probably wasn’t among the topics she has immersed herself in during the process of studying makeup, hair, clothes and how to land a rich husband, but come on. She wonders why people criticize her and don’t respect her. The mere fact that she has lain under the orange fatass is enough of a reason not to respect her, but she defends him after he insults women. Then, there’s the Billy Bush tape. She is a stick figure with no soul, not a First Lady.

    Next, there’s chubby Sarah, whose father is a Christian minister, defending the orange buffoon. In all the years of bible-thumping, didn’t she ever hear the phrase: “turn the other cheek”? That’s what Jesus would have done, not defend a bloated fool who doesn’t understand the expectations of being President. It literally gets worse by the day.

    1. Natacha – how do you know Trump’s wife doesn’t like being on top or being taken from behind?

      1. Copulation with that swine, in any form, is repulsive, but she’s from a culture in which women are subservient.

        1. Copulation with a fat, lying, emotionally immature, racist, xenophobic, misogynist bully old enough to be your father isn’t sexy regardless of position. But, it’s not about sex–she’s arm-candy, supposed to make the orange fatass appear successful. Instead, she adds to his patheticness.

          1. Natacha – you are just jealous you are not her. Get over it. You never will be.

          2. From the body language there is not much going on there but the money. Can’t imagine having to listen to rage attacks all day. No wonder she stayed away so long and looks so miserable.

        2. Funny how you say that when all the women around Trump have been strong women, Melania included. You just think that strong women have to wear those funny pink hats and threaten lives or to threaten to bomb the White House. What culture is that group from?

  9. What a strange story. Nonetheless, some of the details are curious. If Mika and Joe were being hounded by top level aides from the White House, why didn’t they come out with this story immediately? Wouldn’t it seem important enough to be exposed? That is unless the calls from the White House were a fabrication. I hope someone drills down on this further.

      1. Selective editing Frankly……. on the bright side, makes Gabriel (and you) great candidates for a future in fake news!

        “Scarborough called senior adviser Jared Kushner, with whom Scarborough has a friendly relationship…
        Scarborough asked Kushner if there was anything that could be done about the article, the source said, given Trump’s friendship with David Pecker, the chief executive of The Enquirer’s parent company, American Media. Kushner allegedly told Scarborough that the former Republican congressman needed to talk to the president himself about the issue, to which Scarborough replied that Trump was angry at him. The source said Kushner answered: “Well, then maybe you should apologize.”

        Seems a completely obvious and honest response to whining Joe’s request.

  10. I think this may be the first time in the publication’s history that the phrase “this should be treated as a serious matter for inquiry” has ever been used in conjunction with The National Enquirer.

    1. Excellent comment.

      President Trump is childish in responding to corporate-MSM taunts & slurs.

      Corporate-MSM has run Fake News re: RussiaGate from day 1. Hillary & Podesta came-up with the idea to blame Russia hacking for her embarrassing loss– and worse, to deflect attention from her election fraud in cheating Bernie Sanders.

      MSM has disgraced itself– it engages in character assassination and propaganda-pap fed to gullible viewers for ratings. Frankly, one must seek alternative news channels to find the truth. That said, Trump shouldn’t rise to the bait: He should focus on the issues– which corporate-MSM fails to do.

      We are at a low-point in US politics: A president with a thin-skin & a corporate-MSM that outright lies to the American people & pushes propaganda from the Deep State Oligarchy. We live in interesting times: a Chinese curse.

      1. Thanks Gadfly. I agree with your comment as well. I’m not convinced it’s simply that Trump is thin skinned though. It’s as though he is working an angle to ultimately and completely delegitimize the MSM before he really begins working the bigger agenda items.

        Interesting times indeed.

        1. I think so too, Olly. He is strategic and his offense is superb. I have always believed it is the media corruption, first and foremost, that must be exposed and returned to their proper role in this country. His instincts on that issue have been flawless as well.

          Not only “interesting” times but refreshing and empowering times.

        2. If rage tweeting is the key to success, Trump has got this. He is rage tweeting again this morning.

  11. “In the aftermath of the vicious tweets against MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski ….”
    Vicious Tweets? Mean maybe, but vicious?

    Ok, I’ll accept that adjective but I happened on this one. What’s the verdict on this one from JT pal and Hollywood-type John Cusak:


    Is if friendly banter? You should read more of this enlightenment from our thespian on his twitter feed:
    John Cusack (@johncusack) | Twitter

    He’s a real peach.

  12. Jay S , June 30, 2017 at 10:13 AM
    “I’m still trying to concoct a bad joke out of the names ‘Trump’ and ‘Pecker.’ Can somebody help me out here? Maybe having to do with small hands.”

    All Trump has to do, if Scarborough’s claim about the phone calls from administration officials is untrue, is to demand that Scarborough identify the callers, for refutation by them.

    If he doesn’t, it will appear to everyone but Trumpbots that he has stepped on his own petard, big time.

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