David Pecker, Former National Enquirer Publisher, Set To Testify First In Trump Trial

David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, is expected to be called as the first witness in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Monday, according to The New York Times.

Prosecutors are expected to call a host of witnesses as they lay out their case against Trump, the first former president to ever face a criminal trial. He has been charged with 34 felony counts over allegations he falsified business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to the adult film star Stormy Daniels in the waning days of his 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels has said she had an affair with Trump years before his presidency.

At the helm of the Enquirer, Pecker oversaw the purchase of several potentially damaging stories about Trump during his campaign, a scheme known as “catch and kill.” Those included a $150,000 payment to Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she, too, had an affair with Trump in 2006 when he was married to Melania Trump.

American Media Inc., which owned the Enquirer, never ran the story. The Associated Press reported at the time that Pecker kept a safe holding documents on buried stories.

Pecker stepped down from the company in 2020 amid a takeover.

The New York Times said prosecutors will question Pecker shortly after opening statements and will ask about conversations the publisher had with Trump about hush money.

Trump has vehemently denied all charges against him and raged at both the judge and prosecutors for watching a political “witch hunt” against him. On Sunday night, he raged against a limited gag order imposed on him during the trial

Other witnesses expected to testify include Daniels herself, former Trump attorney Michael Cohen, aide Hope Hicks, and Trump Organization officials.