Enquirer Chief Testifies He Was Told Stormy’s Trump Story Was ‘True’

Nordin Catic/Getty
Nordin Catic/Getty

Making a deal with a porn star who said she slept with Donald Trump was a step too far even for tabloid king David Pecker, he testified on Thursday.

The American Media Inc. (AMI) chief told jurors he had grave concerns that buying her story in a “catch-and-kill” scheme to protect the future president could potentially sully the National Enquirer’s reputation.

Pecker was out to dinner with his wife when then-Enquirer Editor-in-Chief Dylan Howard contacted him and said two of his “best sources” had gotten in touch and said an adult film actress named Stormy Daniels was “trying to sell a story that she had a sexual relationship with Donald Trump.”

Enquirer parent company AMI could acquire the story for $120,000 “if we make the decision right now,” Pecker said Howard told him.

“Woman wants 120k,” Howard texted. “Has offers from Mail and GMA want her to talk and do lie detector live. I know the denials were made in the past—but this story is true. I can lock it on publication now to shut down the media chatter and we can assess next steps thereafter. OK?”

The sources, according to Pecker, were former Playboy Playmate Karen McDougal’s attorney Keith Davidson and Gina Rodriguez, Daniels’ agent.

Pecker said he told Howard he didn’t want to do the deal. He said he subsequently told Trump’s then-personal lawyer and “fixer” Michael Cohen, “I can’t pay $120,000… I don’t want the National Enquirer to be associated with a porn star, our largest retailer [is] Walmart, [and] this would be very bad for the magazine… and I don’t want any affiliation with her at all.”

Still, Pecker said he realized how damaging the story could be to Trump and said on the stand, “If anyone was going to buy it, I thought Michael [Cohen] and Donald Trump should buy it.” Howard informed Cohen about the story, and Cohen called Pecker to say Trump would be extremely upset if AMI didn’t buy it, according to Pecker.

“I am not purchasing this story, I am not being associated with a porn star,” Pecker said he replied. “After paying out the doorman, and paying out Karen McDougal,” he testified that he didn’t want to expend any more funds to clean up a Trump mess.

Cohen was furious, and told Pecker that Trump would be very upset about this. Pecker said he told Cohen, “I am not doing it.” Cohen threatened to ruin Pecker’s reputation, and said that if the story were to get out, “The boss will be very angry at you,” Pecker testified.

On Jan. 12, 2018, the Wall Street Journal revealed that Cohen had arranged for AMI to “catch-and-kill” Daniels’ story for $130,000.

She was then interviewed on TV by Anderson Cooper, which Trump told Pecker he believed was a violation of her NDA. Trump said Daniels owed him $1 million for each time she said his name in public, and that by his estimation, she owed him $24 million.

Trump has repeatedly denied having the affair with Daniels.

When Pecker got a letter in 2021 from the FEC about possible campaign violations, he told Cohen that he was “very worried” about his legal exposure. Pecker said Cohen assured him, “What are you worried for? The attorney general is Jeff Sessions, Trump’s got him in his pocket.”

Pecker said on the stand that he later inked a non-prosecution agreement over campaign finance allegations with federal prosecutors in exchange for cooperation in the case which sent Michael Cohen to prison.

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