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Who is David Pecker, the prosecutor's first witness against Trump, and why is his testimony so important?

He is the former CEO of American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer, which played a role in this controversial case.

Donald Trump


This Monday, on the first official day of the secret money trial against former President Donald Trump in New York, the prosecutor's first witness briefly took the stand: David Pecker, former media editor.

Pecker sat and spoke under oath in court about his background as the former CEO of American Media Inc., the parent company of the National Enquirer. This tabloid played a role in this case.

Pecker told the court that he worked for the company for more than 20 years, from March 1999 to August 2020, and served as chairman, president and CEO from 2015 to 2017.

Although Pecker is one of the least known witnesses in the case, the Prosecutor's Office argues that he represents one of the most important testimonies because it alleges that this former media editor is a crucial figure in a "catch and kill" scheme that worked to benefit former President Trump before the 2016 election.

According to the Prosecutor's Office, a "catch and kill" operation is a tactic commonly used by media outlets to buy the rights to a person's story without the intention of publishing it. These schemes usually protect the image of one of those involved in the story.

In this case, the prosecutor's argument is focused on the alleged payment by Trump's former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to former adult film actress Stormy Daniels for $130,000 to supposedly buy her silence about an alleged affair she had with the former president in the mid-2000s.

The role of David Pecker and the National Enquirer

According to reports, Daniels spoke to the tabloid about her alleged affair with Trump, and that is where Pecker contacted and alerted Cohen to buy the pornographic actress's silence. Trump denied the existence of said adventure.

Likewise, Pecker also alerted Trump and his team to the statements of Playboy model Karen McDougal, who also said she had relations with Trump.

The payment received by McDougal of $150,000, unlike the money given to Daniels, was made directly by the National Enquirer, by Pecker's admission in a federal investigation in 2018.

However, David Pecker's brief testimony today did not address the main details of the case because the session ended suddenly due to a medical compromise by one of the jurors. So, the former media editor is expected to return to the stand tomorrow at 11:00 AM local time.

However, Pecker's testimony served to illustrate the National Enquirer's editorial line and his role within the company.

Pecker's testimony is vital because the Prosecutor's Office, which accuses Trump of 34 counts of falsification of business records, has to prove that Trump not only falsified these records (a misdemeanor) but that he did so on purpose and with the intention to defraud the American people in electoral terms.

Prosecutors, in particular, allege that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen and fraudulently recorded these alleged payments to Daniels as legal expenses. That is, the Prosecutor's Office is working to prove that the former president allegedly falsified records with the intention of committing or concealing a second crime, which is considered a severe crime.