I always wondered what The National Enquirer had against Hillary Clinton. Every trip to the grocery store checkout line was greeted with salacious stories about Clinton on the cover of the Enquirer, especially during the 2016 presidential election. Now we know why. The owner of the Enquirer, David Pecker, is friends with President Donald Trump. A very good friend, it appears. Not only is Pecker keeping negative Trump stories out of the Enquirer, but it appears that he is willing to purchase negative Trump stories to keep them from being published anywhere.

Several former Enquirer employees are reporting that Pecker paid $30,000 in 2015 to a Trump Tower doorman to keep him quiet about a Trump affair with a Trump employee. Another story involves Pecker making a payment of $150,000 to Playboy model Karen McDougal to purchase her story about a 10-month affair with Trump. Pecker, it seems, purchased McDougal's story and then refused to print it. Meanwhile, they are not allowed to tell their story to anyone else. This is called "catch and kill."


Trump appears to have useful friends in the media. The National Enquirer and Fox News are two examples. I would imagine both outlets share the same audience.

ABC News reports that payments by AMI, the media company that owns The National Enquirer, were specifically mentioned in the FBI's search warrant when they raided the office and home of Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Perhaps we will soon learn more details about the interesting relationship that Trump, Pecker and Cohen share. Cohen has admitted giving adult film star Stormy Daniels $130,000 of his own money to keep her quiet about an alleged affair with Trump, even though Trump denies the affair.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Cohen arranged a $1.6 million payment to another Playboy model who became pregnant during an affair with Elliott Broidy, deputy national finance chairman for the Republican National Committee. In a public statement after the disclosure, Broidy admitted to the affair and stated that the pregnancy was terminated. Broidy stated, "She alone decided that she did not want to continue with the pregnancy, and I offered to help her financially during this difficult period."

Isn't it nice how understanding Broidy is regarding his lover's decision to have an abortion? Meanwhile, the political party in which Broidy served (he has since resigned from his position at the RNC) is working overtime to make it impossible for other women to make a similar choice.

Trump is upset that Cohen, his attorney, is under a criminal investigation by the FBI. He even called it "unfair." It seems that Trump is only worried about fairness between law enforcement officials and American citizens when it concerns his personal business. For example, Trump made no mention of fairness after numerous unarmed black men were shot by police or, recently, when two black men were inappropriately arrested at Starbucks. For Trump and his supporters, it appears that blue lives only matter when black lives are on the line. If Trump and friends are questioned by law enforcement, however, then the law and order party is declaring war on the FBI, the Justice Department, and any other law enforcement officials trying to do their jobs.

When not at war with the FBI, Trump is working on a trade war with China. This has caused consternation among American farmers who are bracing for cuts in their exports to China. The day after Trump announced tariffs on a list of about 1,300 Chinese products, he tweeted, "We are not in a trade war with China." China responded with tariffs on 106 American products. This sure looks and sounds like a trade war.

As projected by just about everyone, the Congressional Budget Office reported to Congress last week that the $1.5 trillion 2018 Republican tax cut will not increase economic growth and revenue enough to cover the cost of the tax cut as promised by Speaker Paul Ryan and other Republican leaders. The projected budget deficit in 2018 will explode to nearly $1 trillion and is projected to go over $1 trillion by 2020. According to Michael Gapen, chief economist at Barclays, the higher deficits will "dramatically reduce the ability of fiscal policy to respond to the next" recession. Meanwhile, Speaker Ryan has decided to retire and not face his constituents in 2018. Probably a good idea.

It seems that the GOP is no longer the party of fiscal responsibility any more than it is the party of law and order. They are now the party of Trump.

Tom Zirpoli writes from Westminster. He is program coordinator of the human services management graduate program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.