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Trump hush money trial live updates: David Pecker returns to witness stand



Donald Trump meets New Yorkers before resuming hush money trial

Donald Trump returned to court for the latest instalment of his New York hush money trial on Thursday, where the jury heard further testimony from a former tabloid mogul who detailed the “catch-and-kill” scheme at the heart of the case.

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified about his agreement with his “mentor” Mr Trump and ex-attorney Michael Cohen to suppress stories about the defendant’s alleged affairs.

The cross-examination of Mr Pecker by defence lawyer Emil Bove will likely wrap up on Friday.

Justice Juan Merchan is yet to rule on whether Mr Trump should be held in contempt and fined $10,000 for allegedly violating a trial gag order by posting about witnesses and jurors on Truth Social.

Elsewhere, in Washington DC, attorneys for the former president delivered oral arguments in front of the US Supreme Court in support of his “presidential immunity” defence against prosecution in a landmark hearing.

The justices appeared poised to accept at least a portion of Mr Trump’s argument but could take several weeks to issue a ruling.

In other legal news, the Republican presidential candidate had his latest efforts to overturn the E Jean Carroll verdict against him dismissed.

Alex Woodward is providing live updates from the courthouse in Manhattan.


Pecker admits that the August 5 2016 contract does not mention Trump reimbursing him, Cohen, the plan to reassign life rights to Trump, nor the arrangement at Trump Tower.

“Does the contract even mention the word campaign?” Steinglass asks. (No, it does not.)

Alex Woodward26 April 2024 17:36


Pecker confirms that the “true purpose” of the McDougal contract with to acquire the life rights of her story, and that the other parts of the agreement – columns, cover appearances, blog posts, ghostwriters, etc. – gave the deal “plausible deniability”.

Pecker: “It was included in the contract basically as a disguise of what the actual purpose of it … The actual purpose of it was to acquire the lifetime rights … It would be published by American Media. It would not be published by any media source.”

Alex Woodward26 April 2024 17:30


Redirect questioning of Pecker begins

Bove asks about Pecker’s testimony that Cohen was trying to get access to boxes with materials about Trump, out of concern that he would leave AMI. Bove suggests it’s because of his “job application” with Time.

Pecker clarifies that in 2016, AMI was “looking to acquire all of Time.” He wasn’t applying for a job there.

Pecker also confirms that the contents of those boxes was worthless.

Bove wraps up, with a reminder in the form of a question about Pecker’s obligation to the truth, and that jurors will be the judge of that.

Pecker: “I’ve been truthful to the best of my recollection.”

Redirect from prosecutor Joshua Steinglass.

Alex Woodward26 April 2024 17:27


Biden ‘happy’ to debate Trump

President Joe Biden on Friday said he will participate in televised debates with his likely opponent, former president Donald Trump, before the 5 November presidential election.

Mr Biden said he’d debate Mr Trump during an hour-long, wide-ranging interview with Sirius-XM radio host Howard Stern after Stern asked him whether he’d do so.

Oliver O’Connell26 April 2024 17:20


Bove asks about an October 2019 meeting with the District Attorney’s office, in which Bove suggests he described that paragraph 3 was “wrong and inaccurate”.

Bove reads: “I think that may be inaccurate. I think that came up with the feds. I have never heard Pecker saying that.”

“Do you remember that?”

Pecker: “My testimony I gave, I offered at that meeting to be the eyes and ears … The stories, women would be selling them and I would offer them to Michael Cohen. Selling and purchasing here are synonymous. Someone has to buy them.”

“Based on your experiences, Michael Cohen was prone to exaggeration?”

“You could not trust everything he said?”

This feels too close to an attempt to impeach another witness who hasn’t testified yet.

Alex Woodward26 April 2024 17:12


Question answered

Yesterday, Donald Trump was sucking on some type of candy or lozenge he kept taking out of his jacket while seated in court. He sounded very hoarse at the end of the day.

Today, Ben Kochman of The New York Post spotted what it was:

Oliver O’Connell26 April 2024 17:08


Here’s the paragraph of the non-prosecution agreement that is being focused on by Bove questions:

3. In or about August 2015, David Pecker, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of AMl, met with Michael Cohen, an attorney for a presidential candidate, and at least one other member of the campaign. At the meeting, Pecker offered to help deal with negative stories about that presidential candidate’s relationships with women by, among other things, assisting the campaign in identifying such stories so they could be purchased and their publication avoided. Pecker agreed to keep Cohen apprised of any such negative stories.

Oliver O’Connell26 April 2024 17:02


“AMI’s assets are worth less to Hudson News Group if AMI is subject to federal investigation?”

Pecker: “The investigation is not going to reduce the earnings of the company, of the magazines.”

But what if AMI had been indicted? Bove asks. He hits the word indicted like it’s italicised.

Pecker admits that yes that would’ve been an issue.

The non-prosecution agreement is just that, however. It does not criminally charge AMI.

“There’s no admission by AMI in this agreement of a campaign violation, correct?” Bove aks.

Bove is focusing on a clause about the federal government prosecuting AMI for “false, incomplete or misleading testimony or information.”

That “gives the federal government some options if it determines that AMI or its representatives give false or misleading testimony, right?”

Alex Woodward26 April 2024 16:55


Court resumes

Alex Woodward is reporting for The Independent from the courthouse in Lower Manhattan:

Pecker is recalling the FBI’s search of his phone in April 2018. Agents showed up at his home around 8am.

He pushed back at Bove’s description of those meetings as “stressful” but admitted he wanted to get them over with.

We’re looking at Pecker’s nonprosecution agreement with the Justice Department from September 2018, which Pecker testified about yesterday.

Bove is suggesting that Pecker and AMI were under pressure from a deal for the company to get sold off to Hudson News Group.

Asked by Bove whether that meant that AMI needed to get the investigations cleared up, Pecker pauses and says yes.

“The federal investigation needed to get resolved before the deal could go through, correct?”

Pecker, after a pause: “The transaction could’ve closed subject to the investigation being completed.”

Oliver O’Connell26 April 2024 16:44


How does Trump interact with others in court?

Norm Eisen, legal analyst for CNN and senior fellow at the Brookings Governance, had an interesting interaction with the former president as the court went on its break…

Oliver O’Connell26 April 2024 16:33

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