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April 22, 2024 11:31 AM UTC

Trump Hush Money Trial: Day Of The Pecker, Part 1

  • 15 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols
David Pecker.

Opening arguments were heard today in the first of several criminal cases against former President Donald Trump, this being the case of Trump cooking his books to conceal a “hush money” payment made to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep the story of their alleged affair under wraps. Prosecuting attorney Matthew Colangelo laid out the basics of the case, an arrangement via Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen with David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer, to purchase exclusive rights to problematic stories about Trump and then deliberately never publish them. NBC News:

Colangelo explained Cohen and Pecker’s alleged roles in the hush money scheme.

“Cohen’s job really was to take care of problems for the defendant,” he said. “He was Trump’s fixer.”

Colangelo said that together, the two conspired to influence the outcome of the 2016 election and that Pecker would act as eyes and ears for Trump. Pecker’s job was to gather information that could be harmful and report that to Cohen, he said.

Trump’s defense is first and foremost denial of the extramarital affair to begin with, followed quickly by the “reminder” that “catch and kill” story rights and hush money payments for affairs that never happened are perfectly legal:

[Trump attorney Todd] Blanche said that Trump met her in 2006 when he was running “The Apprentice” TV show, and he was looking for contestants. He said that she saw her chance to make a lot of money in 2016, $130,000 by making the allegations about having a sexual encounter with Trump.

“I’m going to say something else about her testimony, and this is important: It doesn’t matter,” he told the jury. “Her testimony, while salacious, does not matter.”

As for paying Stormy Daniels to keep quiet in order to influence the outcome of the 2016 election?

“I have a spoiler alert: There’s nothing wrong with trying to influence an election,” Blanche said in his opening statement. “It’s called democracy.”

It requires acceptance of some cognitive dissonance, or what George Orwell called doublethink, to accept this simultaneous denial of the affair and defense of the hush money for the affair that never happened. Which got even more difficult to hold together once David Pecker took this stand today, albeit briefly as the Washington Post reports:

David Pecker, former president and CEO of American Media Inc., said that the National Enquirer “used checkbook journalism, and we paid for stories,” a practice generally not used by mainstream media.

In this case, prosecutors are alleging that, beginning in August 2015, Pecker agreed to pay for negative stories about then-presidential candidate Donald Trump, obtained nondisclosure agreements from the subjects, and then didn’t publish any stories. [Pols emphasis]

Because trial ended early today to allow a juror to make a medical appointment, the prosecution didn’t get very far in their lengthy list of questions for Mr. Pecker, who like Michael Cohen has already spilled all of these beans in cooperation with the prosecution. Pecker will be back on the witness stand tomorrow, and it’s expected to be pretty damning for Trump. Why would all of this money and effort be expended to cover up…nothing?

Again, the alleged crime in this case is neither the affair with Stormy Daniels nor the payment of $130,000 to keep her quiet about the affair, but rather the concealment of the payout–“falsifying New York business records in order to conceal damaging information and unlawful activity from American voters before and after the 2016 election.” In the end, it may be that this effort was about protecting Trump’s personal reputation and Trump’s marriage as much as influencing the outcome of an election, but under New York law falsifying business records is a felony when committed in the furtherance of another crime.

With the least weighty subject matter compared to questions of insurrection and hoarding classified documents, this is the trial which has been most assailed by Trump’s supporters as “lawfare” being waged against Trump for political reasons. But both morally and legally, this case exposes significant misconduct–and just as important an an election year, significant dishonesty–that neither the criminal justice system nor voters can ignore.

Comments

15 thoughts on “Trump Hush Money Trial: Day Of The Pecker, Part 1

    1. Will Pecker rise to the occasion?  If someone was writing a script for this Merikan reality tv show that’s holding us hostage even Larry David  couldn’t make this stuff up. 

  1. It's step 1 in this story that gets me. Imagine if we found out that a Democrat candidate for President had accepted a "catch-and-kill" story agreement with an influencial journalism organization in 2016. That bit, by itself, would be screamed about by Republicans any time that person was mentioned for forever.

    That's even before "cheated on pregnant spouse with porn star" and before "paid off the porn star to not mention it" and way before "lied about reasons for transactions in a campaign" which is what this trial is about.

    1. The only way I'll converse about this with my MAGA family is with the terms "just substitute Obama's name for Trumps in this storyline and tell me you wouldn't be a calling for the imprisonment of the Kenyan (spoken in my pro-birther, Melania voice).

  2. What an amazing coincidence!  Trump's lawyer confessed to also being a raging megalomaniacal narsissist with a fragile ego, hoping to become dictator for life of America.  Apparently he too porked a porn star while his third wife was pregnant with his fifth child!

    “This is important: He is not just our former president, he is not just Donald Trump you see on TV and read about,” said Todd Blanche, the former president’s lead attorney. “He is also a man, he’s a husband, he’s a father. And just like me.

  3. According to the prosecution's opening statement today:

    On election night 2016, as Trump edged closer to being declared the victor, Stormy Daniels' then-attorney Keith Davidson sent this text message to National Enquirer editor in chief Dylan Howard:

    "What have we done?"

  4. Entertainment program if Trump DOES want to testify in his own defense.   Decisions out of the Sandoval hearing

    If Donald Trump decides to testify in his criminal hush money trial, these are the cases Judge Juan Merchan will allow prosecutors to use to cross examine Trump:

    • Merchan will allow Trump to be cross examined on the civil fraud verdict that found he violated the law by fraudulently inflating the value of his properties and was ordered to pay more than $464 million in penalties, including interest.
    • The judge will also allow prosecutors to ask Trump about the two violations of Judge Arthur Engoron's gag order during the trial last fall, in which Trump was fined $15,000.
    • Prosecutors will be permitted to ask Trump about both E. Jean Carroll verdicts in federal court where juries found that Trump defamed her when he denied her rape allegations. Trump was ordered to pay $83.3 million for defaming Carroll.
    • And, Merchan is allowing prosecutors to elicit testimony from Trump about the settlement he reached with the New York attorney general that led to the dissolution of the Donald J. Trump Foundation.

    I was disappointed to NOT see the Colorado hearing on Trump's insurrection, the Colorado Supreme Court acceptance of the trial court's finding, and the US Supreme Court ruling that didn't deny those findings, either.

    1. We’re down to four rat gestation periods (21 days) until the Republican National Convention.  Any guesses on whether they’ll have a platform this time? 

      1. I wouldn't think they would find a single reason to bother having one. Or, maybe they'll use the 2025 Project as a platform. Or is it officially Project 2025?

         

        1. Rats can be sexually mature as early as 37 days, so we’ll have rats becoming meemaws from their teen spawn before the big day arrives in Ohio. 

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