MSNBC hosts Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough alleged on Friday that White House officials threatened them with a negative National Enquirer story that they said would only be pulled if they asked President Trump for help.
"This year, top White House staff members warned that the National Enquirer was planning to publish a negative article about us unless we begged the president to have the story spiked," they wrote in a Washington Post op-ed. "We ignored their desperate pleas."
The two elaborated on the plot during their Friday show following up after a tense 24 hours since Trump first berated the engaged media couple on Twitter.
"We got a call that, 'Hey, the National Enquirer is going to run a negative story against you guys.' And it was — Donald is friends, the president is friends with the guy that runs the National Enquirer. And they said, 'If you call the president up and you apologize for your coverage, then he will pick up the phone and basically spike this story,'" Scarborough said during Friday's show.
"I will just say, three people at the very top of the administration calling me ... I don't know what they have. Run a story? I'm not going to do it. The calls kept coming. And kept coming. And they were like, 'Call. You need to call. Please call. Come on, Joe. Just pick up the phone and call him,'" Scarborough said.
"It's blackmail," Brzezinski added. "And let me explain what they were threatening. They were calling my children. They were calling close friends ... And our response talking to my ex-husband and Joe and my kids was screw it, let them run it. Go ahead and run it, we're not calling."
Trump responded just as the show concluded at 9 a.m., claiming Scarborough lied about how he said he responded to the White House.
"Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show," Trump tweeted.
Scarborough then responded on Twitter within minutes of Trump's comment.
Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months. https://t.co/TZWiElo6Gs— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) June 30, 2017
"Yet another lie. I have texts from your top aides and phone records. Also, those records show I haven't spoken with you in many months," Scarborough wrote.
Scarborough said on Friday's show that Trump had called him during the campaign to tell him he had his "friend" at the National Enquirer write negative stories about campaign foes Dr. Ben Carson and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas.
A day earlier, Trump tweeted about Scarborough and Brzezinski, ripping them for their coverage of his administration, before unleashing a personal attack against Brzezinski.
"I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don't watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year's Eve, and insisted on joining me," Trump tweeted around 9 a.m. Thursday. "She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!"
Brzezinski told viewers on Friday that she believed Trump's initial attack was in response to her laughing over fake Time magazine covers posted in a number of Trump's golf resorts.
Scarborough also said Trump trash-talked his fiancee to 20 congressmen who attended an event at the White House earlier this year.