National Enquirer chief says Trump called him in fury when deal leaked (2024)

The former publisher of the National Enquirer described in court Thursday how Donald Trumpcalled him in a fury when details of a secret deal with Playboy model Karen McDougal became public just four days before the 2016 election.

David Pecker's testimony revealed how an 'agitated' Trump, already facing questions about his treatment of women because of the 'Access Hollywood' tape, accused his company of leaking the information to the Wall Street Journal.

'How could this happen? I thought you had this under control,' Pecker says Trump asked him.

'Either you or one of your people have leaked this story.'

Pecker, 72, is a key witness in the case against the former president.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump watches as prosecutor Joshua Steinglass questions David Pecker during Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence p*rn star Stormy Daniels in 2016

Former President Donald Trump sits between his lawyers Emil Bove (left) and Todd Blanche

Trump is accused of falsifying business records to hide a $130,000 payment to p*rn starStormy Daniels to keep her from revealing an affair she claimed to have had with Trump in 2006.

Pecker described on Tuesday how he agreed to be the 'eyes and ears' of the Trump campaign during a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower.

He said the National Enquirer's network of sources would hunt down negative stories about the candidate, allowing him to buy them up in what prosecutors said was a 'catch and kill' scheme.

On Thursday, he described talks with Trump's fixer Michael Cohen and a plan to buy McDougal's story about another alleged affair.

On November 4, 2016, The Journal reported that Pecker's company American Media paid McDougal $150,000 but had not published her account.

The report cited 'documents reviewed by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter' in the story that was published four days before Election Day.

At the time, Pecker denied his company was killing negative stories about Trump. In court, he admitted the statement was false.

'I wanted to protect my company, I wanted to protect myself and I wanted also to protect Donald Trump,' he said.

Trump listened intently as Pecker described how McDougal wanted $150,000, as well as writing assignments and other business opportunities, for her claims of an affair. At times he passed notes to the lawyers sitting either side of him.

Trump seen with former Playboy model Karen McDougal

Trump addressed a TV camera in the hallway before entering courtroom 1530

Pecker said Cohen had initially asked him to bear the costs.

'I said, "Michael, why should I pay? I just paid $30,000 for the doorman story,' he said, referencing another deal to silence a doorman who claimed Trump had fathered an illegitimate child (a story that turned out not to be true.

'Now you're asking me to pay $150,000 for the Karen story, plus all of these other additional items that she wants to do.'

Pecker said Cohen told him: 'Don't worry about it. I'm your friend. The boss will take care of it.'

He said he signed an agreement with Cohen to assign the rights to the story to a shell company, which would conceal his tracks.

But he then said he canceled the deal after speaking with a company lawyer.

'I'm not going forward, it’s a bad idea and I want you to rip up the agreement,' he said he told Cohen

'He was very angry, very upset, Screaming at me basically.'

He added that Cohen told him: 'The boss is going to be very angry at you.'

When details appeared in the media, Cohen messaged him to say to expect a call from Trump.

Pecker testified that he had been friends with Trump for decades, and had helped stamp out negative stories during the 2016 election after a key meeting at Trump Tower

Trump leaves the courtroom during a break in proceedings on Thursday

During the bad-tempered call on the Saturday before the election, Pecker denied being the source.

'There is no way we’re giving this information to the Wall Street Journal,' he said.

The call ended abruptly.

'He didn't say goodbye, which is very unusual,' said Pecker.

The exchange gives a sense of panic inside Trump World, with details of the deal being splashed across newspapers just as voters were due to go to the polls.

Thursday began with prosecutors accusing Trump of several more violations of a gag order, designed to protect witnesses.

The judge was already considering whether to hold Trump in contempt and fine him for what prosecutors say is 10 counts of breaching the order. On Thursday morning they added four more counts, including comments he made about Cohen and saying that the jury was made up of '95 percent Democrats.'

Merchan has yet to make his ruling.

There was also a debate over whether text messages between National Enquirer editor Dylan Howard and a relative could be used in court.

'At least if he wins, I'll be pardoned for electoral fraud,' Howard said in one of the messages, sent during Trump's 2016 campaign.

The messages were read aloud by a prosecutor.

In another message, Howard said Trump had 'just been named president elect.'

'Oh dear,' was the response, triggering laughter in the gallery.

The defense said the messages were 'hearsay' and the judge decided to keep them out of the trial for now.

Before heading to Manhattan criminal court on Thursday morning, Donald Trump made a stop greeting hundreds of union workers and signing MAGA hats

Workers from the site gathered outside while others stood on scaffolding to get a glimpse

Trump's lawyers last week asked that they might skip Thursday's hearing so that the former president could attend a Supreme Court hearing where another legal team was arguing that he was entitled to immunity for acts committed in office.

'I think the Supreme Court has a very important argument before it today,' he told journalists in the hallway outside the courtroom. 'I would have loved to have been there.'

Trump began his day with anearly-morning visit to a Manhattan construction site where he was greeted by chants of, 'USA, USA.'

He signed supporters hats and slammed the court proceedings.

'This whole thing it's election interference,' Trump told the crowd regarding his multiple legal battles before taking a shot at President Joe Biden.

'We're leading by a lot. He is the worst president in the history of our country. He makes Jimmy Carter look great.

National Enquirer chief says Trump called him in fury when deal leaked (2024)
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