Trump ‘hush money’ trial resumes,  National Enquirer boss David Pecker returning to the stand

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker will return the witness stand today for the second day of Donald Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial over covering up “hush money” payments to a porn star.

Pecker will resume testimony where he is expected to detail the inner workings of a scheme he, Trump and his “fixer” lawyer Michael Cohen devised to buy up and bury bad news during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump is on trial for allegedly fudging business records to conceal a $130,000 payoff to Stormy Daniels made before the 2016 presidential election.

Former President Donald Trump’s Manhattan “hush money” trial will continue with a second day of testimony from former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker. Steven Hirsch
Pecker is expected to continue testifying about the scheme he, Trump and Michael Cohen to buy and bury stories about his affairs. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

The 72-year-old ex-CEO of the Enquirer’s parent company, American Media Inc., is slated to continue his testimony around 11 a.m. — after a hearing over whether Trump, 77, breached the terms of a court order barring him from ripping jurors and witnesses online.

The Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says the ex-president violated the “gag order” at least 10 times, including by sharing a quote on Truth Social from a Fox News host which said, “they are catching undercover liberal activists lying to the judge” in order to get on the jury.

Justice Juan Merchan, the trial judge, has cited concerns about the privacy of the panel of everyday Manhattanites on the jury — including two corporate lawyers, a retired wealth manager who loves yoga, and people who have expressed both admiration and disdain for Trump — who will decide his fate.

A hearing will be held to determine whether or not Trump violated his gag order. REUTERS/Jane Rosenberg

Trump was ordered to follow a limited gag order in March barring him from slamming expected trial witnesses, such as Daniels and his ex personal lawyer Michael Cohen.

However, after leaving court Monday he spoke directly about Cohen, saying: “When are they going to look at all the lies that Cohen did in the last trial? He got caught lying in the last trial. Pure lying,” referring to how the ex-lawyer admitted lying under oath in a 2018 case.

He’s still allowed to bash Merchan and Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg — but is barred from ripping their families, according to the order. His lawyers have claimed his social media posts do not breach the terms of the order.

Trump and Pecker did not make eye contact during Pecker’s brief testimony on Monday. Elizabeth Williams via AP

After the hearing wraps, Pecker is expected to be asked about allegedly huddling with Trump and Cohen at Trump Tower in 2015 to silence damaging stories about Trump — while ordering hit pieces on the real estate mogul’s political foes.

Prosecutors told jurors during Monday’s opening statements Monday Pecker helped orchestrate three “catch-and-kill schemes” — buying exclusive rights to potentially damaging stories and then never publishing them — on Trump’s behalf.

The $130,000 payoff to Daniels was one payment. The magazine also paid $150,000 for Playboy model Karen McDougal’s story about how she had an affair with Trump, but never published it.

A former doorman at Trump Tower, Dino Sajudin, claimed he had knowledge Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock and was also paid $30,000 — despite Enquirer staffers never seriously looking into his story, prosecutors say, which later turned out to be false.

Trump, who is required to attend every day of the trial in person, came face-to-face with his former ally Pecker as he first took the stand Monday — but the pair did not make eye contact.

Pecker only testified for 20 minutes before the judge called a break for a juror to make an emergency dentist appointment, and to give people sufficient time to prepare for the Jewish holiday of Passover.

Trump speaking to the media after the first day of his trial on April 22, 2024. Steven Hirsch

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records, which each carry a potential sentence of up to four years in prison.

The payoffs — also known as “hush money” — breached state election law and amount to a plot to interfere in the 2016 election by keeping damaging stories from voters, prosecutors say.

Court papers claim Trump lied on company files that he was reimbursing Cohen for “legal work” — when he was actually paying his fixer back for paying off Daniels.

Blasting the entire case outside of court Monday, Trump said: “This is a case in which you pay a lawyer and they call it a legal expense in the books. I got indicted for that.”

He also said instead of attending the trial he should be out campaigning for re-election.

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