How many people have been paid off to cover up Trump’s past? And how much will it cost to keep them quiet?
More importantly, the woman, Karen McDougal, last year signed a $150,000 contract with the publisher of the National Enquirer, David Pecker, a close friend of Trump, who then made sure the story about the affair was never published. The contract also made sure the McDougal couldn't discuss the matter publicly.
That payoff looks an awful lot like the $130,000 hush money payment Trump's personal attorney made to a porn actress on the eve of the 2016 election. In 2011, she had discussed her affair with Trump. But the 2016 payment barred her from doing so going forward.
In the wake of Trump's attorney conceding he made the $130,000 payment, the actress, Stormy Daniels, is now threatening to go public with her story.
For Trump, it all points to an elaborate system he and his handlers have in place to cover up embarrassing information about his past. However, it also exposes the possibility that Trump can be blackmailed because key players know embarrassing secrets about his past.
Indeed, at the National Enquirer, stockpiling dirt on famous people is a common practice. "Pecker also used the unpublished stories as 'leverage' over some celebrities in order to pressure them to pose for his magazines or feed him stories," one former employee told The New Yorker.
"These dirty stories about high-profile individuals would be used as leverage over these individuals," New Yorker writer Ronan Farrow told "Good Morning America" Friday. "Obviously, national security implications here when that happens to be the president."
Incredibly, this is a White House drowning in blackmail possibilities.
Recall that the reason the White House recently became engulfed in controversy over a top aide who was accused of abusing his ex-wives is because he could not land a security clearance in part because of the fear that he could be blackmailed over the explosive allegations of abuse.
And the reason then-Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates arrived at the White House just days after Trump was inaugurated last year was to warn the staff that national security adviser Michael Flynn, by lying about his previous contacts with Russian operatives, was now susceptible to blackmail because the Russians knew he had lied.
And during the 2016 campaign, Christopher Steele, the former British spy who was hired to chronicle Trump's salacious dealings with the Russians, was so alarmed by what he found that he contacted the FBI because he feared that if elected, Trump could be blackmailed by Russia.
An awful lot of people seem to have an awful lot of dirt on Trump and his associates. Keeping them quiet raises all kinds of national security problems for this White House.