Trump trial: Defense continues cross-examination of National Enquirer publisher David Pecker: Live updates


Former U.S. President Donald Trump sits in the courtroom at Manhattan criminal court in New York on April 26, 2024.

Jeenah Moon | Via Reuters

This is a developing story and will be updated throughout the day.

Defense attorneys for former President Donald Trump continued the cross-examination Friday of former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who has given three days of damning testimony for the prosecution in Trump’s New York criminal hush money trial.

Pecker’s cross-examination began Thursday afternoon, when attorneys for Trump started a line of questions designed to poke holes in Pecker’s credibility. The effort drew objections from prosecutors late Thursday afternoon, which New York Judge Juan Merchan said would be dealt with on Friday.

Once the cross-examination is over, prosecutors are expected to redirect the questioning.

Entering the courtroom Friday morning, Trump said he thought things went “very well” in the trial on Thursday.

He also complained about how cold it is in the courtroom and what he claims are conflicts of interest by the judge. He called the proceedings “a rigged trial.” Trump has repeatedly made those same allegations on social media.

Pecker’s testimony

Pecker testified about the “catch and kill” scheme he devised along with Trump and Trump attorney Michael Cohen to buy the rights to negative tabloid stories about Trump during the 2016 presidential campaign and not publish them, essentially killing them.

Pecker described how his publishing company paid $30,000 to a former Trump Tower doorman for a story he did not believe was true, and another $150,000 to ex-Playboy model Karen McDougal for the rights to her story about an alleged affair with Trump, which Pecker said he did believe was true.

Pecker also explained how, after buying the first two stories and not being reimbursed by Trump for them, he was not willing to pay another $130,000 to buy the silence of adult film actor Stormy Daniels, who alleged she had a sexual encounter with Trump a decade before he ran for president.

Pecker sat just feet away from Trump as he spoke, and the two men occasionally looked at one another. Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records as part of a scheme to cover up reimbursement payments that he eventually made to Cohen after his lawyer and personal fixer paid the $130,000 to buy Daniels’ silence.

Pecker also testified that he suspected the company’s payments for the doorman’s silence and McDougal’s story might constitute campaign finance violations, because they were essentially undeclared contributions to assist Trump’s campaign for president.

He consulted a campaign finance lawyer on the matter, but the publishing company AMI — the National Enquirer’s parent company — nonetheless later received an inquiry from the Federal Election Commission about the payments.

The company ultimately admitted to a campaign finance violation and paid a fine in 2021 of more than $180,000 in a conciliation agreement with the FEC to settle the matter.

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