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- Ron Burkle, a billionaire California investor, is in talks to buy the The National Enquirer, The New York Times reported Thursday.
- Burkle is a major Democratic donor with ties to former President Bill Clinton, and President Donald Trump has called him "a friend of mine for a long time."
- The deal will likely face scrutiny given the tabloid’s close ties to Trump and its role in paying off a former Playboy model during the 2016 election who said she had an affair with Trump.
Ron Burkle, a billionaire California investor, is in talks to buy the The National Enquirer, The New York Times reported Thursday.
The deal is not finalized and will likely face scrutiny given The Enquirer’s role in paying off a former Playboy model during the 2016 election who said she had an affair with President Donald Trump.
Burkle made his money buying and selling supermarkets in California and has owned the Pittsburgh Penguins hockey team since 1999.
Burkle also had a long relationship with Trump. The president called Burkle "a friend of mine for a long time" and a "great negotiator" during the billionaire’s trip to the White House with the Penguins in 2017.
Burkle has been openly critical of Hillary Clinton and other prominent Democrats in recent years. He called former President Barack Obama a disappointment in 2016. He raised money for Republican presidential candidate John Kasich in 2016.
"As much as I like Gore, Kerry and [Hillary] Clinton, nobody can ever remember what they stand for," he told the Los Angeles Times. "They overcomplicate it. … They don’t win on vision — they make it too complicated. They don’t win on likability.
American Media Inc., which owns The Enquirer, has found itself in financial and legal trouble over the past several years. The publisher faces shrinking newsstand sales and growing debt.
The company is also under the scrutiny of the US Attorney’s Office in the Southern District of New York. In September 2018, CEO David Pecker and Chief Content Officer Dylan Howard reached a non-prosecution deal with federal officials.
In addition, American Media admitted to paying $150,000 to Karen McDougal, the former Playboy model who claimed to have had an affair with Trump, in a "catch and kill" deal "to ensure that a woman did not publicize damaging allegations about that candidate before the 2016 election and thereby influence that election." Pecker is a close personal friend of Trump’s.
Sarah Gray contributed to this report.
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