Pecker Describes 'Confidential' Arrangement With Trump, Aides

Former 'National Enquirer' publisher says he promised to be Trump's 'eyes and ears'
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 23, 2024 2:24 PM CDT
Pecker: I Said I'd Be Trump's 'Eyes and Ears'
Donald Trump appears in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in New York.   (Curtis Means/ via AP, Pool)

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker discussed his long history with Donald Trump when took the stand for a second day in Trump's hush-money trial Tuesday. Pecker said he met Trump in the '80s and considered him a friend until 2017, NBC News reports. He testified that at a meeting at Trump Tower in August 2015 with Trump, lawyer Michael Cohen, and Trump aide Hope Hicks, he was asked what he could do for Trump's campaign and pledged to be Trump's "eyes and ears," the AP reports. "I said that anything I hear in the marketplace, if I hear anything negative about yourself, or if I hear about women selling stories, I would notify Michael Cohen," said Pecker, who confirmed that the arrangement was "so the stories would not get published."

  • A mutually beneficial arrangement. Pecker described a mutually beneficial arrangement with Trump going back to Trump's Apprentice days, when Pecker would pay for news from the show. He said that during the campaign, the Enquirer published positive stories about Trump and would publish negative stories about Trump's primary rivals at Cohen's request. The BBC reports that prosecutor Joshua Steinglass "seemed amused" as he read out some Enquirer headlines, including "Ted Cruz Shamed by Porn Star."
  • Fake news. Pecker said the tabloid would "embellish" stories about Cruz and other Trump rivals, which the New York Times describes as a confession "that it published 'fake news' to help" Trump. He said Cohen would call him after debates and ask for negative stories about whichever Trump rival had been most successful. He said he told then-editor Dylan Howard that the arrangement with Trump and his aides was "highly, highly confidential."

  • The doorman story. The Times reports that Pecker was asked about a doorman at a Trump building who tried to sell what is believed to be a false story about Trump fathering an illegitimate child. "I made the decision to buy the story because of the potential embarrassment it would have to the campaign and Mr. Trump," Pecker testified. He said the doorman was paid $30,000, and Cohen told him "the boss would be very pleased" if the story was off the market.
  • Karen McDougal. Before the trial finished for the day, Pecker started testifying about another "catch-and-kill" deal, this one involving former Playboy model Karen McDougal, who said she had an affair with Trump in 2006, NBC reports. His testimony will continue when the trial resumes Thursday, and McDougal is expected to be called as a witness at some point.
(More Trump hush-money trial stories.)

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