The grand jury investigating former President Donald Trump’s involvement in hush money payments summoned David Pecker, the former CEO of American Media Inc. (AMI) and publisher of the National Enquirer, as a witness for the second time on Monday.
Pecker’s presence underscores how the case, which is focused on allegations that Trump falsified business records, is still active.
That’s just one of four legal proceedings tied to the former president. Separately, U.S. Judge James Boasberg has ruled that former Vice President Mike Pence must testify to prosecutors regarding the role he and Trump played during the Jan. 6 insurrection, according to the Washington Post.
“David Pecker, the ex-publisher of The National Enquirer, is reportedly in possession of a damming trove of dirt on Trump, stemming from their long-standing friendship and his aid in maintaining the former president’s public image,” said Rolling Stone Magazine in a tweet.
Pecker, considered a key witness, entered the Manhattan courthouse Monday afternoon and reportedly stayed for 90 minutes.
Recall how adult film star Stormy Daniels had contacted AMI back in October 2016 with her story about an alleged affair with Trump.
Pecker, who was with AMI at the time, consulted Trump’s former legal counsel, Michael Cohen, who subsequently agreed to buy Daniels’ silence for $130,000.
“He met with Michael Cohen & Donald Trump in 2015 to agree on making covert payments to women to benefit the campaign,” said Norm Eisen, a legal analyst at CNN in a tweet.
Cohen apparently dragged his feet in paying Daniels, but eventually followed through at the behest of Pecker.
The grand jury is currently deciding whether to indict Trump for his alleged role in the payment. The exact details of what he would be charged for remain unclear, although it likely has to do with the fact that the Trump Organization reimbursed Cohen for the hush money and passed it off as a legal fee.
The grand jury — which meets Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays — did not convene late last week.
Meanwhile, Trump is dealing with at least three other lawsuits, including the Justice Department’s investigation into the riots that occurred on Jan. 6, 2021 in Washington, D.C. Pence had previously claimed executive privilege in order to not testify, but as of Tuesday, March 28, Boasberg has denied that request.
Trump is also under legal scrutiny in Georgia, where prosecutors are considering charges involving alleged efforts to overturn the 2020 election in the state.
Trump is currently seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency again in 2024. The potential for the former commander-in-chief to possibly be arrested and read his Miranda rights (that he has the right to remain silent and the right to an attorney) is unprecedented.
Trump continues calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and denies any wrongdoing, including having the affair with Daniels.
Still, the fact that Cohen, Daniels and Pecker each testified before a grand jury assembled by Manhattan D.A. Alvin Bragg shows that the investigation is ongoing.
Trump continues to blast the investigation on his social media platform, Truth Social, promising “death and destruction,” and calling Bragg “an animal” while urging his social media followers to “take our nation back.”
While his blank-check company, Digital World Acquisition Corp., continues to experience setbacks, so does Trump’s campaign.
A poll conducted by NPR/PBS Newshour/Marist after Trump said he was going to be arrested shows that most Americans, at least among those surveyed, believe the investigations against him are “fair” and not a “witch hunt.”
In terms of whether Trump has engaged in improper behavior, 46% think he has, while 29% say he has done something unethical but not illegal. Only 23% say he has done nothing wrong, according to the poll data.
Produced in association with Benzinga