Mystery grand jury witness in Trump hush money probe is former 'Enquirer' publisher and Trump ally
Avid followers of the Manhattan District Attorney’s moves noted the grand jury had been called into service for Monday, and soon news leaked that yet another witness would be testifying in the probe into Donald Trump’s alleged hush money payment to Stormy Daniels.
Monday afternoon, NBC News’ Garrett Haake reported live on MSNBC that the mystery witness was David Pecker, the former tabloid publisher of the “National Enquirer,” who reportedly had been looking for stories in 2016 to protect Donald Trump’s presidential campaign. Haake notes Monday was Pecker’s second appearance before the grand jury in the hush money case.
The New York Times also reported David Pecker as the grand jury witness, calling Pecker “a key player in the hush-money matter. He and the tabloid’s top editor helped broker the deal between the porn star, Stormy Daniels, and Michael D. Cohen, Mr. Trump’s fixer at the time.”
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“While the focus of Mr. Pecker’s testimony is unclear, he could provide valuable information for prosecutors. A longtime ally of Mr. Trump, he agreed to keep an eye out for potentially damaging stories about Mr. Trump during the 2016 campaign,” The Times reports. “For a brief time in October 2016, Ms. Daniels appeared to have just that kind of story. Her agent and lawyer discussed the possibility of selling exclusive rights to her story of a sexual encounter with Mr. Trump to The National Enquirer, which would then promise to never publish it, a practice known as ‘catch and kill.'”
Former Deputy Assistant Attorney General Harry Litman weighed in, noting, “nothing about that decision [to have Pecker testify] suggests any change of heart on Bragg’s part to indict Trump.”
Former Dept. of Defense Special Counsel Ryan Goodman, an NYU professor of law, notes that Pecker’s “testimony can show the [hush money] scheme was designed to affect outcome of election.”
“He reportedly communicated directly with Trump on payment,” Goodman adds.
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