Donald Trump Hush Money Trial Kicks Off With Former American Media CEO David Pecker

The former close Trump ally, who carried out “catch-and-kill” operations for the president, took the stand after opening statements

An older man with a silver mustache smiles, wearing a suit, in a ballroom-styled environment.
David Pecker attends the 'Shape France' Magazine cocktail launch at Hotel Talleyrand on Jan. 19, 2012 in Paris, France. (Photo by Francois Durand/Getty Images)

David Pecker, the former CEO of National Enquirer publisher American Media and one-time close friend and ally to Donald Trump, took the stand in New York’s election fraud case against the former president Monday, kicking off what could be up to eight weeks of testimony centered on hush money payments made to adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Trump glanced up as Pecker entered the courtroom for what was expected to be a short stint on the stand – the witness was not directly involved in the diversion of funds to pay Daniels’ nondisclosure agreement, the crux of the state’s case.

But Pecker was a key fixer for Trump before and after his election, executing “catch-and-kill” strategies – buying exclusive rights to damaging stories and burying them – on the former president’s behalf, and the two were close friends before the matter went public. The two are no longer on speaking terms, though they reportedly made eye contact while in court Monday, and Pecker said “Hi” to Trump’s defense table as he walked past.

The trial was not being televised, but nearly every cable news outlet was running wall-to-wall coverage, dribbling out details coming from reporters inside the courtroom. But those were scant: CNN’s Kaitlan Collins described Pecker as a “light” witness, who spoke generally about how things worked at the National Enquirer and whose testimony was not directly related to the charges before being excused.

Because an alternate juror had a dentist appointment Monday, the judge adjourned court for the remainder of the day. More witnesses are expected to be called Tuesday.


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