Pecker: 'We Didn't Want the Story to Embarrass Mr. Trump'

Former 'National Enquirer' publisher describes payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 25, 2024 2:48 PM CDT
Pecker: 'We Didn't Want the Story to Embarrass Mr. Trump'
Donald Trump, left, watches as David Pecker answers questions on the witness stand, far right, from assistant district attorney Joshua Steingless, in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York.   (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Donald Trump's dizzying day in court continued in New York on Thursday as former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker picked up his testimony in the hush-money trial. Pecker elaborated on the "catch and kill" strategy of buying and burying negative Trump stories. For example, he spoke about paying $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal to suppress her account of an alleged affair with Trump. "We didn't want the story to embarrass Mr. Trump or embarrass or hurt the campaign," Pecker told the court.

  • Trump's knowledge: Pecker said he believed Trump knew McDougal because of a phone call they had at the time, per USA Today. "I spoke to Michael," he recalls Trump saying, referring to former Trump "fixer" Michael Cohen. "Karen is a nice girl." Pecker said Trump asked for his advice on the call, and Pecker told him to buy the story because he believed it to be true. He also said Trump thanked him after the 2016 election for helping keep the story quiet.

  • The import: The McDougal testimony "is important for the prosecution's argument that Mr. Trump was seeking to win the election through illegal means," per the New York Times. Pecker paid the $150,000 and said he was assured by Cohen that "the boss will take care of it." Prosecutors say Trump illegally hid payments like that, per the AP.
  • On Trump: Pecker said he hasn't spoken to Trump since 2019 but has long considered him a "mentor," per the Hill. "I have no ill will at all," Pecker said. "Even though we haven't spoken, I still consider him a friend."
(More David Pecker stories.)

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