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Trump trial hears testimony from David Pecker on 'catch and kill' project

Trump trial hears testimony from David Pecker on 'catch and kill' project


David Pecker answers questions from prosecutors Joshua Steinglass during the trial of former President Donald Trump in New York on Tuesday, April 23, 2024. Jane Rosenberg

Pecker then described the second “catch and kill” story, which involved former Playboy model Karen McDougal. She claimed to have had an affair with Trump, which he denies.

Pecker said Dylan Howard, the Enquirer's editor, got wind of the story in early June 2016. Pecker sent Howard to California to interview McDougal and told Cohen about his claims. The witness noted that he spoke to Cohen almost every day, and sometimes several times a day, during this period.

Cohen at one point warned that they shouldn't talk on a landline, so they switched to the encrypted app Signal, according to Pecker. Pecker said Cohen “explained to me that it was an encrypted app where no one could trace it and there was no paper trail and no one could listen in on the conversations. And the conversation is apparently destroyed after the call I stay to this day, I don't know if it's true or not.”

They started using the app, but Pecker said, “Every time I used it, it would disappear after about 30 seconds. »

Pecker said he knew Cohen told Trump about McDougal's allegations because of a call he received while he was in New Jersey, where he was making a business presentation. Trump called and said Cohen had told him about McDougal, he testified.

“What do you think?” Pecker said Trump asked. He responded that McDougal claimed to have received offers from ABC's “Dancing with the Stars” and a Mexican group that would supposedly pay him $8 million for the story.

“And I said, 'My understanding is that she doesn't want her story published. I think the story should be bought and I think you should buy it,'” Pecker recalled telling Trump.

“Mr. Trump said, 'I'm not buying any stories. Anytime you do something like that, it always comes out.'”

Pecker said: “I still believe we should take this story off the market. [Trump] said, 'Let me think about it and I'll ask Michael Cohen to call you back in a few days.'”

When Howard traveled to California to speak to McDougal, Pecker said Cohen called him several times a day and “became really agitated… He kept calling and every time he called he seemed more anxious”.

“I assumed he had a conversation with Mr. Trump and Mr. Trump was asking Michael Cohen, 'Have we heard anything yet?' But that’s just a guess on my part,” Pecker said.

The Enquirer ultimately obtained the rights to McDougal's account for $150,000 and never published his story.

Pecker gestured with his hands at the booth as he told the story in a typical New York accent. His white hair was combed back and he wore round glasses.

Jurors watched him closely during his testimony, some turning to prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, or perhaps sometimes to Trump.

Merchan leaned back as Pecker told his story, his head resting on his hand, listening.




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