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Publisher says he wanted to keep tabloid’s agreement with Trump ‘as quiet as possible’


NEW YORK (AP) — Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified Tuesday that he offered to be the “eyes and ears” of Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign, a pledge that led to an agreement to give Trump’s personal lawyer advance notice of allegations and negative stories that might hamper the political aspirations of the then-candidate.

Pecker elaborated on that agreement, testifying that the tabloid ran negative stories about Trump’s political opponents and even paid for a doorman’s silence after the man came forward claiming that Trump had fathered a child.

Testimony in the case resumed just before midday following a morning hearing on the former president’s alleged gag order violations.

Like on Monday, Pecker was the only witness to take the stand in the historic case.

Prosecutors have said the former tabloid publisher worked with Trump and Michael Cohen on a “catch-and-kill” strategy to buy up and then spike negative stories. Among the allegations is a $130,000 payment that Cohen made to Stormy Daniels to bury her claim of an extramarital sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. Trump has denied that the encounter ever took place.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys in opening statements Monday painted competing portraits of the former president — one depicting him as someone who sought to corrupt the 2016 presidential election for his own benefit and another describing him as an innocent, everyday man who was being subjected to a case the government “should never have brought.”

Prosecutors claim Trump obscured the true nature of those payments in internal business documents.

He has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records.

The case is the first criminal trial of a former American president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

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