Is Donald Trump Worried About Being Blackmailed?

David Pecker, owner of the National Enquirer and its infamous safe.Jennifer Podis/The Palm Beach Post/ZUMAPRESS

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Last week we all heard about “the safe,” the legendary repository of decades of dirt on Donald Trump that had been dug up and then faithfully reburied by the National Enquirer. Today, the New York Times reports that Trump has always been interested in more than just paying hush money via the Enquirer to women he’s had affairs with. He wants the whole safe:

He and his lawyer at the time, Michael D. Cohen, devised a plan to buy up all the dirt on Mr. Trump that the National Enquirer and its parent company had collected on him, dating back to the 1980s, according to several of Mr. Trump’s associates….“It’s all the stuff — all the stuff, because you never know,” Mr. Cohen said on the recording.

The move by Mr. Trump and Mr. Cohen indicated just how concerned they were about all the information amassed by the company, American Media, and its chairman, David Pecker, a loyal Trump ally of two decades who has cooperated with investigators….There was perennial talk about American Media’s business troubles. And Mr. Trump appeared to take a world-wearier view of the wisdom of leaving his sensitive personal secrets in someone else’s hands:

“Maybe he gets hit by a truck,” Mr. Trump said of Mr. Pecker in a conversation with Mr. Cohen, musing about an unfortunate mishap befalling his good friend.

Nobody knows what’s in the safe, and given Trump’s reputation it’s possible it contains nothing that could really do him any harm. Then again, it might contain plenty. At the very least, there’s evidence that Trump was and is worried about it.

A question for Republicans: How nervous are you with the knowledge that reams of blackmail material might exist that could be used against the president of the United States? And keep in mind that this is material that’s merely locked in an ordinary safe—no fancy encryption, no firewall, no passwords that need to be hacked—and, for all anyone knows, has already been stolen? Does that bother you?

It seems to bother Trump.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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