Key Witness Reveals String of Deals in ‘Breathtaking’ Testimony at Trump Trial

On April 25th, former President Donald Trump had a significant day. The Supreme Court listened to arguments regarding his claim to presidential immunity, while a separate criminal trial in New York saw notable progress with witness testimonies.

Despite this, President Trump seized the chance to visit a campaign stop ahead of those occurrences. He greeted construction workers in New York, where a crowd cheered “USA, USA” at 48th Street and Park Avenue at 6:30 a.m.

“I’m going to make a play for New Yorkers,” President Trump told reporters at the event.

“They said, I just heard, there was a very good poll that came out. Normally, a Democrat will win New York. Biden is the worst president in history, we have some very bad people here, but we have the greatest people and they’re right behind me. They all want us to run, and we’re going to run very hard in New York,” he continued.

Around 9:30 a.m., he found himself in a downtown courtroom facing trial for 34 charges related to purportedly falsifying business records in an attempt to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Over the course of three days, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker recounted the specifics and timeline of three agreements aimed at silencing individuals from disclosing damaging stories about then-presidential candidate Trump before the 2016 election. He provided these details while being questioned directly by prosecutors.

From 1999 until 2020, Mr. Pecker served as the chief executive of American Media Inc. (AMI), which possessed numerous publications, primarily focusing on celebrity tabloid content.

“We used checkbook journalism and we paid for stories,” he said.

Not every story they bought were published; sometimes, purchases were made to hold leverage over a celebrity or to prevent the release of a negative story.

During Arnold Schwarzenegger’s gubernatorial campaign in California, Mr. Pecker entered into another agreement with the politician.

However, this agreement was made public, sparking an investigation. Mr. Pecker admitted feeling “very embarrassed” by the ordeal. Concerned about potential breaches of campaign finance laws, he launched an internal investigation aimed at establishing new policies and procedures about buying up stories.

These payments were managed by a sole accountant, not because Mr. Pecker deemed it unlawful at the time, but because he was cautious about potential leaks if too many people were involved, he explained.

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Prosecutors concluded their questioning by having Mr. Pecker read from a 2018 agreement he made with federal prosecutors, where he confessed to paying $150,000 “in concert with a candidate’s campaign, and in order to ensure that the woman did not publicize damaging allegations about the candidate before the 2016 presidential election.” He also entered into an agreement to cooperate and testify in exchange for immunity with the Manhattan district attorney.

President Trump’s attorney, Emil Bove, contended that Mr. Pecker’s agreement with President Trump was not unlawful. Bove cited other agreements Pecker made with individuals like Tiger Woods, Mark Wahlberg, and politician Rahm Emanuel, notably after Emanuel left the Obama administration to pursue the mayoral position in Chicago.

Mr. Bove also had Mr. Pecker confirm that he couldn’t recall the exact timing of the 2015 meeting at Trump Tower until prosecutors reminded him. Bove further questioned Pecker about various dates and details that the witness couldn’t recall, aiming to demonstrate the unreliability of testimony regarding events from so long ago.

Mr. Pecker and President Trump had a longstanding relationship dating back to the 1980s. Pecker would receive insider information about Trump’s ventures, particularly “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

Pecker understood the power of magazine covers and capitalized on Trump’s popularity, conducting a poll in 2015 that showed significant support for Trump’s presidential bid among National Enquirer readers.

During a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower, Pecker offered to be the campaign’s “eyes and ears,” leveraging his media influence due to The Trump Organization’s limited staff. This led to Pecker employing checkbook journalism tactics, promising positive coverage for Trump and negative stories about his opponents. Michael Cohen served as Pecker’s primary contact for all matters concerning Trump.

This collaboration resulted in three significant deals, one of which forms the basis of charges against President Trump. Pecker paid $30,000 for a false story from former Trump doorman Dino Sajudin and $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal for a story he believed to be true.

However, when news emerged about Stormy Daniels’s story, Pecker distanced himself from the situation, refusing to associate the National Enquirer with a porn star.

Despite Pecker’s reluctance, Cohen pursued the Stormy Daniels story against Pecker’s wishes. This decision led to tension between Pecker, Cohen, and Dylan Howard, the National Enquirer’s chief content officer. Ultimately, Cohen paid off Daniels without informing Pecker, causing further discord among the parties involved.

Exiting the courtroom, President Trump informed the press that the day was “breathtaking.”

“Breathtaking and amazing testimony,” he said. “This is a trial that never should have happened, this is a case that never should have been filed, and was really an incredible, an incredible day. Open your eyes. We can’t let this continue to happen to our country,” Trump concluded.

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By Hunter Fielding
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