Federal prosecutors determined that in American Media’s work with Mr. Cohen — and for Mr. Trump’s candidacy, according to Mr. Cohen — the company operated in more of a supportive political function for Mr. Trump, The Times reported in July.
And when the authorities subpoenaed the company in April, its executives decided against fighting it, agreeing to cooperate where warranted, and where they deemed officials were not violating First Amendment rights.
The company’s cooperation has provided prosecutors with a second line of access to communications about the effort to protect Mr. Trump’s secrets involving women during the campaign, on top of the information provided by Mr. Cohen.
Though several people familiar with American Media’s operations have said that the company keeps a strict records policy that ensures that emails are deleted regularly, it is not clear that the same held for encrypted communications or recordings. Dylan Howard, the company’s chief content officer, who is also said to be cooperating, was known to have a recording device in his office, according to people familiar with his operations. American Media would not comment.
In court documents filed on Tuesday, federal prosecutors cited “encrypted” communications among Mr. Pecker, Mr. Howard and Mr. Cohen regarding the payoff to Stephanie Clifford, the pornographic film actress known as Stormy Daniels, who claimed to have had a brief affair with Mr. Trump.
Among the records prosecutors subpoenaed last spring were communications between Mr. Pecker and Mr. Howard. According to the court documents made public this week, Mr. Pecker and Mr. Howard had been in touch with Mr. Cohen about both Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who said she had a 10-month affair with Mr. Trump that began in 2006, and Ms. Clifford.
In June 2016, when Ms. McDougal approached American Media, whose tabloids include The National Enquirer, about selling her story, both Mr. Pecker and Mr. Howard provided Mr. Cohen a heads-up, prosecutors said.