Fri. May 24th, 2024

Ex-tabloid publisher David Pecker grilled by defense

By 37ci3 Apr26,2024


Bove presses Pecker on efforts to sell Enquirer amid talks with feds

Bove asked Pecker about the proposed deal to sell the National Enquirer and two other tabloids to the Hudson Group, a travel retailer. Pecker replied that he did not recall the “exact dates” of the proposed transaction.

He then asked whether Pecker told the Manhattan district attorney’s office that sale negotiations were taking place when AMI cut a nonprosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in New York.

Bove asked Pecker: “You knew that, to consummate that deal, you had to clear up the investigations?” Pecker replied yes.

Bove then got Pecker to further admit that such an arrangement was baked into the deal papers with the Hudson Group. Bove asked whether the transaction put additional pressure on him, and Pecker replied that, “from a timing standpoint,” it “put further stress on the transaction.”

The upshot: Bove is suggesting that Pecker and AMI admitted to certain misconduct.

Trial has resumed

The judge is back on the bench and the jury is being brought in.

Court takes a brief break

The court is taking a brief break after Trump’s lawyer Bove said he had a few more questions left for cross-examination.

That’s a smart move because if Bove is, indeed, nearing the end, taking a break allows him to have a quick confab with the other defense lawyers to see if he’s left anything out, failed to follow up on anything, etc.

Prosecutors object to questions about Comey

As Bove was questioning Pecker, he broached the subject of Trump’s relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, asking, “You know following that [January 2017] meeting there were issues between President Trump and James Comey?”

Immediately, prosecutors objected and Merchan called a sidebar. Meanwhile, Trump whispered with Necheles at the defense table.

Merchan sustained the objection.

Bove and Pecker barely had a chance to resume before another objection and sidebar were called.

Pecker says he wanted nothing to do with Enquirer story about Stormy Daniels

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Pecker, under cross-examination from Bove, testified that he wanted no part in the Enquirer’s story about Daniels, the porn star who claims she had an affair with Trump.

Bove asked Pecker to confirm whether he told then-Enquirer editor-in-chief Dylan Howard that he wanted no involvement in the story about Daniels; Pecker replied, “That’s correct.”

Bove asked Pecker: “You did not consider Stormy Daniels’ story to be a part of any agreement that you had in August of 2015, is that correct?” Pecker testified that it was correct.

Trump lawyer tries to establish that AMI got something of value from McDougal agreement

Bove is trying to show that AMI got something of value from the McDougal agreement pointing to a number of columns and magazine covers.

Pecker confirmed that he told McDougal that the promotional opportunities she had there were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and ran 65 stories.

“When AMI signed this agreement, the one that’s on this screen, you believed it had a legitimate business purpose, correct?” Bove asked.

“I did,” Pecker said.

Bove zeroes in on the ties between Pecker and Cohen

The point Bove appears to be driving at is that Pecker and Cohen were especially close — but that Pecker was well aware that Cohen was not well regarded even among his own business associates.

Bove keeps referring to Trump as ‘President Trump’ but prosecutors repeatedly object

Bove keeps referring to Trump as “President Trump” when he is discussing periods when Trump was not in office.

The DA’s office keeps objecting, and Merchan is sustaining those objections, deflating the defense’s efforts to inflate Trump.

Jury appears intrigued by Pecker questioning

The jurors appear rapt, their eyes moving from Pecker to Bove and back again. Some are taking notes. One chewed the end of a pen, eyes locked on Pecker as he speaks.

Bove tries — and fails — to establish that Pecker knew McDougal earlier

Bove just tried — and failed — to establish that Pecker knew about McDougal years prior because she had been one of the first female cover models on Men’s Fitness, shortly after his arrival at AMI in 1999. Pecker explained he didn’t know her and didn’t know of her.

Bove seeks to establish that National Enquirer stood to profit off stories it bought

Pecker, under cross-examination from Bove, admitted that American Media Inc., the Enquirer’s parent company, entered into hundreds of agreements with sources, including before he joined the firm. The tabloid stood to profit handsomely off the stories it purchased, Pecker effectively conceded under oath.

Pecker testified that AMI could have sold “10 million National Enquirers” if the claim that Trump had fathered a child with a Trump Tower maid was true. The publishing executive previously testified that he believed that the story being peddled by former Trump Tower doorman Dino Sajudin was false, though.

Trump lawyer questions Pecker about National Enquirer recycling other outlets’ stories

Bove referred to negative stories raised by prosecutors that the National Enquirer published about Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., and Ben Carson in 2016.

“There wasn’t much new content in those stories, was there?” Bove asked.

Pecker responded, “I would have to reread the stories to answer that question.”

Bove said that the Enquirer would reuse content published by other news outlets because it was cost-efficient and good for business. Pecker said yes.

Trump lawyer focuses Pecker cross-examination on Hope Hicks

Bove, Trump’s lawyer, resumed his cross-examination of Pecker with a line of questions about former Trump aide Hope Hicks. Bove is attempting to draw out possible inconsistencies in Pecker’s testimony about Hicks’ presence at the 2015 meeting at Trump Tower.

Bove established that Hicks once worked for a public relations agency that did work for Star magazine, and that she had been known to Pecker, who was once the publisher of the magazine.

Bove asked Pecker: “You said she was in and out of the [August 2015] meeting, correct?” Pecker conceded that Hicks did not participate in or speaking during that meeting.

Trump leans back, closes eyes in courtroom

Trump is sitting in the courtroom with his eyes shut, leaning back comfortably. There are three Secret Service agents seated behind him in the front row of the gallery.

Pecker will return to the stand

Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, will return to the stand for another day of testimony.

He will testify under cross-examination from Trump’s lawyer, Emil Bove.

Trump aide Boris Epshteyn is in court for the second day in a row

Trump aide Boris Epshteyn is in court for the second day in a row.

He’s another legal adviser who is quarterbacking Trump’s various trials and was recently indicted by a state grand jury in Arizona for his alleged role in trying to overturn Joe Biden’s win in the state during the 2020 presidential election.

Trump praises Supreme Court arguments, decries ‘freezing’ New York courthouse

Trump, addressing reporters before entering the courthouse for Day 8 of the trial, insisted that his team had “a very good day yesterday” but once again blasted the case against him as “rigged” and decried the “freezing” temperature inside the courtroom.

The former president also commented on yesterday’s Supreme Court oral arguments over his immunity claim in the federal election subversion case. He hailed the arguments as “brilliant” and repeated talking points about the need for “all presidents” to have broad immunity protections.

Court has resumed

The judge is on the bench and trial has resumed.

Pecker returns this morning for fourth day of testimony

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David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, will return to the stand for his fourth day of testimony under cross examination by Trump attorney Emil Bove.

Bove is focusing on inconsistencies in Pecker’s testimony about whether former Trump aide Hope Hicks was at the 2015 meeting at Trump Tower where suppressing stories was discussed.

Prosecutors objected several times to the line of questioning, prompting bench meetings because prosecutor Joshua Steinglass says Hicks was not mentioned in Pecker’s proffer meeting with federal prosecutors. Judge Merchan ended Thursday’s hearing saying: “It’s misleading, and we’re going to correct it tomorrow.”

Bove said he has a couple hours more on cross, and then we will have redirect.

Trump’s criminal charges, Biden’s age rank as voters’ top worries about the candidates

Voters continue to rank President Joe Biden’s age and former President Donald Trump’s legal woes as the most compelling reasons to oppose them in November, according to new data from the latest national NBC News poll.

Respondents in the recent poll, conducted April 12-16, were asked about three potential vulnerabilities for each candidate ahead of the fall election. 

For Biden, the idea that he “may not have the necessary mental and physical health to be president for a second term” was the most compelling reason for 23% of registered voters. Another 17% of registered voters said their top gripe with Biden was that “millions of immigrants have crossed our border illegally” during his presidency, and 16% chose the message about inflation’s hitting a “40-year high, making it hard for take home pay to match rising prices.” Another 15% said “all of these” were most convincing.

For Trump, 20% of registered voters said the most convincing reason to oppose him was that he’s “facing four different criminal and civil trials for alleged wrongdoing, including multiple felony charges related to attempts to overturn the 2020 election.”

Another 14% said Trump “takes credit for his Supreme Court nominees taking away a woman’s right to an abortion,” and 8% chose that he “wants to pardon those convicted of storming the Capitol on January 6th.”

But there was a significant difference among the respondents who said none of those messages were the most convincing: For Trump, 40% of registered voters chose that option, while 28% chose it for Biden.

Read the full story here

Key prosecution witness in Trump trial to face grilling from former president’s lawyers

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The prosecution’s first witness in its case against Donald Trump will be back on the stand Friday as defense attorneys try to combat the story he has laid out about how the former president was involved in efforts to quash “embarrassing“ stories that could have hurt him during the 2016 campaign.

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker‘s testimony marks the end of the second week of Trump’s hush money trial.

Since he took the stand Monday, Pecker has told jurors that Trump and his then-lawyer Michael Cohen had asked him to be their “eyes and ears” when it came to salacious stories that could undermine Trump’s candidacy.

When cross-examination began Thursday, Trump attorney Emil Bove immediately set out to poke holes in Pecker’s credibility, getting him to acknowledge times he had mixed up dates and that the passage of time could affect his memory.

“There are some gaps, correct? Because it was a long time ago?” Bove asked.

“Yes,” Pecker replied.

Read the full story here

David Pecker testified about what he knew of the payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels to keep her relationship with Trump quiet. He also discussed an agreement the National Enquirer made with former Playboy model Karen McDougal. NBC News’ Vaughn Hillyard reports.

Mitch McConnell says presidents shouldn’t be immune from prosecution

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said in an interview Thursday with NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that he doesn’t think presidents should be immune from criminal prosecution for actions taken while in office, as the Supreme Court heard arguments on the issue.

The Kentucky Republican also told “Meet the Press” moderator Kristen Welker that he stands by his acquittal vote and comments he made in 2021, when he voted against convicting former President Donald Trump in a Senate trial after he was impeached by the House on charges related to the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

“President Trump is still liable for everything he did while he was in office. … He didn’t get away with anything, yet,” McConnell said in 2021, adding, “we have a criminal justice system in this country. We have civil litigation. And former presidents are not immune from being [held] accountable by either one.”

“That’s [still] my view,” McConnell said Thursday, as the Supreme Court heard arguments from Trump’s attorneys and federal prosecutors about whether the former president can face charges for acts he committed while in office.

Read the full story here

Trump lawyer backs away from absolute immunity argument at Supreme Court

WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump has long argued for absolute immunity in his federal election interference case, but his lawyer struck a different tone Thursday during arguments at the Supreme Court.

With the justices appeared largely skeptical of the argument that the entire indictment against Trump should be dismissed, attorney D. John Sauer made some concessions.

Sauer appeared to agree with special counsel Jack Smith, who is leading the prosecution, that there are some allegations in the indictment that do not involve “official acts” of the president.

Sauer’s main argument was that the entire indictment is premised on official acts, which should be protected by immunity in part to ensure that presidents’ hands are not tied over fear of prosecution after they leave office.

Sauer accepted that Trump can be prosecuted for private acts that were not tied to his official duties as president.

During oral arguments, the justices zeroed in on the public-private distinction, which may lead to a ruling that sends the case back to lower courts for further deliberations on that issue, potentially scuttling any chance that a trial could take place before the election in November.

Read the full story here

Trump heads to court for Day 8 of trial

The former president has left Trump Tower and is en route to the courthouse.

Day 7 testimony included buried celebrity stories and disputes over paying Stormy Daniels

Taking the stand Thursday for now the third day this week, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker provided testimony to form a road map for New York prosecutors’ case against former President Donald Trump.

From detailing business invoice practices to establishing how deeply Trump was involved from beginning to end, lawyers for the Manhattan district attorney’s office had Pecker walk the jury through much of the events that occurred leading up to and after the payments to Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about an affair she alleges she had with Trump.

Sprinkled in the testimony were juicy celebrity gossip tidbits and revelations about Trump’s repeated inquiries about a Playboy model who also claimed to have had an affair with him.

And after hours of dishing new details, the defense tried Thursday to paint Pecker as suffering from memory lapses and operating for his own motives.

Read the full story here

Gag order hearing on tap for next week

A gag order hearing previously set for next Wednesday has been moved to Thursday, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter.

Judge Juan Merchan heard arguments Tuesday about whether Trump willfully violated a gag order in the case. During that hearing, prosecutors asked for the judge to impose a $1,000 fine for each post that they said violated the order.

Prosecutors are also seeking an order for Trump to take down those social media posts, along with a warning that any future violations could risk jail time. Trump’s attorneys argue he has not violated the order.

Biden says he hasn’t been following Trump’s trial

During a campaign fundraising event last night, Biden told the crowd of supporters that he has not had a chance to follow Trump’s court proceedings in the hush money case.

“I’ve been out campaigning,” Biden said.

Biden has said little about Trump’s trial since it got underway last week.

Trump says he will take the stand ‘if it’s necessary’

In an interview last night, Trump told Newsmax that he would take the stand in his hush money trial “if it’s necessary.”

The former president said on April 12 that he “would testify, absolutely,” and last week he responded “yes” when asked if he would take the stand.

Trump is not required to testify during the trial.

What to expect in court today

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, the first witness for the prosecution, is expected to return to the stand for cross-examination.

Trump’s defense team yesterday tried to cast doubt on Pecker’s memory of the hush money payments he had described in earlier testimony.

“There are some gaps, correct? Because it was a long time ago?” Trump lawyer Emil Bove asked Pecker. “Yes,” Pecker replied.

It’s unclear if Pecker’s testimony will conclude today or if there will be another witness.

Here’s what happened yesterday in court

Former publisher of the National Enquirer David Pecker returned to the witness stand yesterday and talked about his role in hush money payments to an adult film star and a Playboy model.

Pecker also testified about communicating with then-Trump lawyer Michael Cohen about the arrangement for the payments, as well as his concern about the possible legal ramifications of making payments related to a major presidential candidate in the 2016 campaign.

Pecker, 72, was cross-examined by Trump’s defense, who tried to cast doubt on his memory of events from that period.



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