David Pecker set to return to witness stand as Trump’s hush money trial resumes

NEW YORK — Former National Enquirer David Pecker is slated to return to the stand Thursday at Donald Trump’s Manhattan Supreme Court hush money trial — where the jurors are expected to hunker down for their first full day of testimony.

While lawyers for the former president argue before the U.S. Supreme Court in an attempt to get him out of his election subversion case by invoking presidential immunity, Trump is expected to hear Pecker detail American Media’s effort to silence Playboy model Karen McDougal before the 2016 election about her allegations of an affair.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan previously denied Trump’s request to skip the morning’s proceedings so he could attend the arguments before the nation’s high court.

Merchan is due to issue a decision on prosecutors’ request to hold Trump in criminal contempt and impose monetary sanctions for potentially violating a gag order prohibiting him from publicly criticizing trial participants.

In case you missed it

Pecker, the former CEO of American Media Inc., or AMI, has walked the jury through the plot to exploit his empire of celebrity gossip tabloids and magazines to build the Trump brand and influence the results of the 2016 presidential election.

Pecker said he, Trump, and former fixer Michael Cohen hatched the scheme at a 2015 meeting at Trump Tower, where he agreed to publish pro-Trump stories while working to hide unsavory ones, taking them “off the market” by purchasing the exclusive rights to ensure they never got published in a scheme known as “catch and kill.”

The bigger picture

The bombshell testimony about Trump’s behind-the-scenes campaign strategies comes as the 2024 race grinds into gear.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business records, alleging he covered up a hush money payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels as part of a sweeping scheme to defraud voters.