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Friday, Apr 12, 2024

Trump ally and ex-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified Monday before the NY hush-money grand jury

Trump ally and ex-National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified Monday before the NY hush-money grand jury

Pecker, a former Trump ally, played a key role in the 2016 hush-money payment at the center of the Manhattan district attorney probe.
The grand jury weighing the Trump hush-money case in Manhattan heard testimony by one-time Trump ally and former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker on Monday, the New York Times reported.

Pecker testified for about 90 minutes at the lower Manhattan building where the panel meets; Insider can confirm that he arrived and left in a car driven by district attorney staff.

The panel is weighing charges against former President Donald Trump in connection with a $130,000 payment on the brink of the 2016 presidential election.

The payment purchased a contractual promise of silence from adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, who was shopping around her account of having a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, federal prosecutors have said.

Trump has denied a sexual encounter with Daniels and any wrongdoing in the hush-money matter.

The ex-publisher was one of the first witnesses to testify before the grand jury, and he is expected to be among its last.

Star prosecution witness Michael Cohen, Trump's former lawyer and "fixer," had believed he would be the final witness after spending two days testifying before the grand jury in mid-March.

But since then, there was testimony last Monday by a surprise defense rebuttal witness, former Cohen legal advisor Robert Costello. The grand jury did not meet the rest of last week.

Pecker's role in buying and suppressing negative stories to protect Trump, his friend, was described in federal court papers in 2018 and was likely central to his grand jury testimony.

The details of Pecker's so-called "catch and kill" efforts on behalf of Trump were part of the 2018 federal case against Cohen, who pleaded guilty to fronting the $130,000 payment to Daniels. Federal prosecutors called the payment an illegal campaign contribution designed to influence the election by burying Daniels' potentially damaging account.

The ex-publisher "offered to help deal with negative stories about (Trump's) relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided," court papers said at the time.

Trump was reportedly in the room in 2015 when Cohen discussed hush-money payments with Pecker.
The grand jury is expected to reconvene on the hush-money matter Wednesday afternoon.
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