“There was definitely an air in the newsroom that Harvey wanted to discredit these people,” said the former staffer.

More than a dozen former and current TMZ employees described the site’s pro-Trump transformation during the election under Levin, which they say destroyed newsroom morale and led to the departure of several key staffers. The handling of a tip about another purportedly toxic tape, on top of the Access Hollywood footage, would further demoralize staffers…

As the Access Hollywood fallout spread, the TMZ tip line received an email from a lawyer in Los Angeles claiming to have another bombshell tape of Trump in an elevator in Trump Tower, seven sources familiar with the matter told The Daily Beast. (The Daily Beast has uncovered no proof that the tape exists after interviews with more than a dozen former and current TMZ staffers and others with knowledge of the situation. But the actions that Levin took next, these sources felt, spoke volumes about his relationship with Trump.)

Former staffers recall that Levin took an unusual personal interest in pursuing the tape tip because, they believe, it had to do with his friend.