Ex-National Enquirer Publisher Testifies Before Trump Hush-Money Grand Jury
Donald Trump’s 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels has become the focus of a grand jury investigation that is considering an indictment against the former president. But the Daniels payment is only one instance in a widespread scheme orchestrated by Trump to kill potentially damaging stories in the run-up to his 2016 election.
The “catch and kill” scheme was reportedly run in coordination with the National Enquirer David Pecker, the former CEO of its parent company American Media Inc. Pecker, who was called to testify before the grand jury, was spotted exiting the Manhattan courthouse on Monday afternoon.
In 2021, American Media Inc. settled a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) alleging that they unlawfully aided Trump in 2016. The FEC found that Pecker and AMI had violated federal election laws by making a payment to Playboy model Karen McDougal in order to purchase and bury a story about her alleged 2006 affair with Trump. Pecker entered a non-prosecution agreement in which he admitted that the payment had been made in order to help Trump’s campaign.
Pecker’s testimony could be critical to the grand jury’s case against Trump. The former CEO is reportedly in possession of a damming trove of dirt on the former president, stemming from their long-standing friendship and his aid in maintaining Trump’s public image. Investigators are likely to probe Pecker on whether or not Trump was directly involved with the payment to Daniels.
Dylan Howard, a former editor at the Enquirer, has also been tapped to testify before investigators.
With the threat of an indictment looming, Trump has taken to social media to plead his case before the American public, and call for action on his behalf. Last week, Trump engaged in repeated attacks against Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. The former president has launched an all-out assault against Bragg and his investigation — warning of “death and destruction” should he be charged — and scoffed at calls for peaceful protests on Thursday.