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Newspaper boss was Donald Trump’s ‘eyes and ears’ and ‘killed unfavorable stories about him’, court hears | US News

A newspaper boss was Donald Trump’s “eyes and ears” and removed unfavorable stories about him in the run-up to the 2016 election, a court heard.

Triumph He has made history as the first former US president to face a criminal trial.

He is accused of paying hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels in an effort to cover up their alleged affair and falsifying business records to do so.

David Pecker, former head of publishing house AMI, took the stand as the first witness in the trial, describing his involvement in a “catch and kill” plot with Trump and Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, to bury unfavorable press coverage. during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Manhattan Criminal Court also heard Pecker, who signed a “non-prosecution” agreement with prosecutors after AMI admitted to making payments to maintain his silence, describe his role as Trump’s “eyes and ears.”

Pecker said he would point the stories to Cohen, who would check whether they were true or not. This agreement was never put into writing, but Pecker disclosed it to Dylan Howard, editor in chief of the National Enquirer, one of his publications.

Catch up: How the day in court unfolded

Donald Trump awaits the start of the trial in Manhattan criminal court.  Reuters Photo
Trump awaits the start of the procedure. Reuters Photo

Pecker told the court about a meeting he attended in August 2015 with Trump, Cohen and Hope Hicks, the former president’s communications director.

‘I would be the eyes and ears’

He said: “In that meeting with Donald Trump, they asked me what I can do to help the campaign.

“I said what I would do is feature or publish positive stories about Mr. Trump, and I would publish negative stories about his opponents.

“I said I would be the eyes and ears too.”

In particular, Pecker said he would notify Cohen if he heard any negative stories related to Trump and alleged relationships with any women “because Trump was well known as the most eligible bachelor and dated the most beautiful women.”

She added: “It was clear that, in my past experience, when someone runs for public office like this, it is very common for these women to call magazines like the National Enquirer to try to sell their stories.”

The court heard one example of this where Pecker paid $30,000 (£24,000) to buy a story about Trump allegedly fathering an illegitimate baby with a maid.

Photo: Reuters
Trump was accused of devising a “catch and kill” plot to bury unfavorable press coverage during the 2016 presidential campaign. Photo: Reuters

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump departs as his trial continues on charges of falsifying business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in front of Trump Tower in New York City. York, United States, April 23, 2024. REUTERS/Eduardo Muñoz
Trump waves to the crowd outside the courthouse. Photo: Reuters

Pecker said: “I immediately called Michael Cohen and told him exactly what I was told.

“I gave him the name of the penthouse housekeeper and asked him to check it with the Trump Organization payroll first.”

Buy negative press

Pecker believed the story, but said investigators found it to be false and claims Cohen told him it was “absolutely false.”

He added: “I made the decision to buy the story because it could have been embarrassing for the campaign and for Mr. Trump.”

Looming over today’s proceedings were allegations that Trump violated a gag order in posts on social media and on his campaign website.

The gag order restricted Trump’s public speech about jurors, potential witnesses and some other people involved in the case.

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Prosecutors asked the judge to fine Trump $10,000 (£8,000) for ten online posts they said violated the order, but the judge had not made a decision by the end of the day’s proceedings.

Political opponents attacked

However, in addition to protecting Trump’s image, the court heard that Pecker allegedly attacked his political opponents.

He said, “I would publish a Hillary Clinton story as if I were an enabler for a womanizer.”

The prosecution asked, “Did you believe you helped the Trump campaign?”

Pecker told the court it was mutually beneficial because it generated newspaper sales and benefited the Trump campaign.

The court was told that Pecker’s editor would also publish articles about Trump’s Republican opponents “based on the success of some of the candidates.”

He added: “I would get a call from Michael Cohen, and he would tell me and Dylan Howard which candidate and which direction we should go in.”

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National Enquirer Headlines

Some headlines published by the Enquirer included:

• Clumsy surgeon Ben Carson left a sponge in a patient’s brain!

• Ted Cruz embarrassed by a porn star

• Drunk Ted Cruz preparing to lose

• Shocking Claims: Pervert Ted Cruz Caught Cheating – With 5 Secret Mistresses

• Anonymous threat! Hackers threaten Ted Cruz with alleged prostitution

• Donald Trump criticizes Ted Cruz’s father for a photo with the assassin JFK

Also amid today’s proceedings, it emerged that Pecker was one of the first people to encourage Trump to run for president.

In early 2015, Pecker says he told Trump that 80% of National Enquirer readers wanted him to run for president.

He received an invitation to the announcement that Trump would run, made in June 2015, which the court heard read: “No one deserves to be there more than you.”

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