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David Pecker calmly links Trump, Michael Cohen to suppressing stories, pushing fake news

David Pecker, who ran the National Enquirer empire, admitted under oath yesterday to using catch-and-kill payments to support Donald Trump’s campaign — and his Text messages didn’t help the former president either.

During his second day of testimony, Trump’s former friend calmly described handing over cash in two such instances. One was for a story that turned out to be completely false, and the other was to buy the silence of former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougall. The moon-long affair that President Trump denies.

Time ran out before we could get to Stormy Daniels. Mr. Daniels’ testimony about his one-night sexual encounter with Mr. Trump is at the heart of the case, at least when combined with the falsified business records.

Under questioning from Assistant Manhattan Attorney Josh Steinglass, Mr. Pecker said he even considered it an obligation to the campaign to keep other publications from disparaging coverage of President Trump.

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Pecker, in his second day of testimony in the hush money trial, said former Trump fixer Michael Cohen invited Pecker to his June 2015 candidacy launch, which was a close call between Trump and his team. He said it was part of a show of intimacy. (My personal favorite was when he pitched a magazine called Trump Style and Trump leaked his review of The Apprentice to him, which was published by the Enquirer.)

During a meeting with Trump and Cohen in August 2015, Pecker said he was asked, “What can I do to help the campaign? What can my magazine do?”

His answer was, “I would run or publish positive articles about Mr. Trump and negative articles about his opponent.” Pecker testified that Cohen said he could delete such articles even if they were scheduled for publication in another publication.

The positive story was simple: “Donald Trump: The healthiest person in history has been elected!”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s former personal attorney Michael Cohen (right) stands outside a federal courthouse in New York, U.S., on Thursday, December 14, 2023. (Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

But Cohen would make phone calls, ask for negative stories about Ted Cruz, for example, and send information, “and we would embellish it from there.”

That led to a completely fake news story called “Ted Cruz’s Sex Scandal: 5 Secret Mistresses.” (Who can forget the fake Enquirer article linking Cruise’s father to the JFK assassination?)

Or maybe you request a hit song about Ben Carson.

“Failed surgeon Ben Carson left sponge in patient’s brain.”

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One factor that could develop in Trump’s favor – or even if jurors resist on their own – is that Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougall are at their most vulnerable. It is said that he was negotiating to promote his own story in the final stages of the election campaign.

Pecker said he paid $30,000 to a former doorman at the Trump building after hearing that the candidate had given birth to a child out of wedlock. However, investigators discovered that this story was completely false. Interestingly, Pecker said if it had been proven, he would have done it after the election.

Mr. Pecker asked Enquirer editor-in-chief Dylan Howard to investigate Mr. McDougall, who is said to be in talks with ABC, and found her account to be reliable. Mr. Cohen kept asking for updates, and Mr. Trump was concerned enough to call Mr. Pecker himself. Pecker said her story should be bought and covered up.

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker speaks from the stand in former President Donald Trump's criminal trial

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker was charged by Donald Trump with falsifying business records to hide money he paid to hush porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016. Testifying from the stand in Manhattan state court in New York City, USA, in the criminal trial of a former president. 22, 2024, this courtroom sketch. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

Trump objected, saying that doing so would make him look even worse.

But Pecker insisted: The Enquirer then arranged to pay Mr. McDougal $150,000 to write a fitness column for another magazine under its parent company, America Media, and kept quiet about Mr. Trump, the Enquirer testified.

Now, none of this has anything to do with the heart of the case, which involves falsifying business records to hide reimbursements to Cohen. But it’s pretty boring stuff.

What prosecutors were trying to do was tell a story that Mr. Pecker, who was testifying with immunity, was more trustworthy than Mr. Cohen, who was disbarred and later imprisoned. will be exposed to severe attack.

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Next, Pecker will tell the story of Stormy Daniels tomorrow, but there will be no trial today. And it will probably ultimately lead to a falling out with Trump.

Earlier, Judge Juan Marchan heard from both sides whether President Trump violated the gag order by attacking other witnesses, namely Cohen and Stormy, and ultimately blamed the former president’s lawyer. .

Prosecutors said Trump violated the gag order 10 times and proposed a $1,000 fine for each violation. That means the entire debate will cost about $10,000, which is a rounding error even in a cash-strapped state for President Trump.

Todd Blanche, the former president’s lawyer, said there was “no intentional violation of the gag order” and that his client was allowed to respond to the attack by Cohen and Daniels.

President Donald Trump watches with attorney Todd Blanche as prosecutor Matthew Colangelo makes his opening statement in President Trump's criminal trial.

Former President Donald Trump, along with his attorney Tod Blanche, appear during Trump’s criminal trial in Manhattan state court in 2016 for falsifying business records to hide money paid to hush porn star Stormy Daniels.・Prosecutor Matthew Colangelo makes his opening statement during the hearing before Judge Marchan. This courtroom sketch on April 22, 2024 in New York City, USA. (Reuters/Jane Rosenberg)

Blanche had weak hands to play with, and Marchan continued to seek specific comments from Cohen and Daniels.

The judge was furious and at one point said, “I keep asking for answers and I can’t get them.”

Marchan said it would be “foolish” to think that the gag order was somehow lifted because President Trump was attacked.


In the end, the judge reprimanded Mr. Branch. “You have lost all credibility in the court. You have not submitted anything.”

Judge Machan did not give a verdict yesterday, but it is clear what he intends to do.