Trump ‘Hush-Money’ Witness Admits to Inconsistencies in FBI Report

Trump ‘Hush-Money’ Witness Admits to Inconsistencies in FBI Report
Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to members of the media during his hush money trial at Manhattan criminal court in New York City on April 26, 2024. (Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images)

A major witness in former President Donald Trump’s so-called “hush-money” trial admitted to inconsistencies in his previous testimony and suggested that a related FBI report “could be wrong.”

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, who has testified in the case this week, was questioned by Trump attorney Emil Bove about statements he made to federal prosecutors in 2018 that the defense lawyer said were “inconsistent” with the former publisher’s testimony earlier this week.

The Trump team pointed out discrepancy between Mr. Pecker’s testimony this week and 2018 FBI interview. This week, the witness testified President Trump thanked him for handling two stories in a 2017 meeting at the Trump Tower.

However, defense attorneys said that “Trump did not express any gratitude to Pecker and AMI” during his 2018 FBI interview. Mr. Pecker said that the FBI notes may be inconsistent with his testimony, while Mr. Bove pointed out an error in Mr. Pecker’s testimony about mistaking the year of a third-party agreement relating to a deal with former model Karen McDougal.

According to notes cited by Mr. Bove in court, Mr. Pecker had previously said that the former president did not express any gratitude to him during the meeting.

Mr. Bove asked, “So you can’t reconcile what you said yesterday, is inconsistent with this report. Are you suggesting that the FBI made a mistake here?”

But Mr. Pecker stuck to the story that he gave in court. “The FBI notes that someone is writing down here could be wrong,” he said, adding: “I know what the truth is, I can’t state why this was written here.”

“I know what I testified to yesterday, and I know what I remember. Going back to 2018, I didn’t recall, what I was saying here is that there’s the FBI investigation. I know what I said yesterday … what the FBI interview was, made a mistake,” he added.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pecker affirmed that during the 2015 Trump Tower meeting that prosecutors allege was the beginning of a conspiracy, the concept of “catch and kill” was not discussed.

The day before, he had told defense attorneys that this was not a term in his lexicon, and the first he heard it was when one of the prosecutors used it. He confirmed for the defense that over the decades his publications have used hundreds of thousands of such contracts, and it’s standard for these contracts to afford the publication rights to the story for years.

There was also no discussion at the Trump Tower meeting of any “financial dimension,” such as the National Enquirer paying people on President Trump’s behalf for the rights to their stories, Mr. Pecker said. Prosecutors have alleged otherwise.

However, Mr. Pecker has testified that he came up with a plan with the former president and then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen in August 2015 for the National Enquirer to help the former president’s presidential campaign in 2016, which prosecutors say is tantamount to election interference.

In the case, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments meant to stifle negative stories from surfacing in the final days of the 2016 campaign. President Trump denies any wrongdoing and has pleaded not guilty.

The case centers on $130,000 in payments that President Trump’s company made to Mr. Cohen, paying the sum on President Trump’s behalf to keep porn performer Stormy Daniels quiet about her allegations of an affair with the former president a decade before. The former president denies the allegations, while his attorneys say Ms. Daniels is using the claims to bolster her fame and income.

In previous testimony, Mr. Pecker told the court that an editor told him that Ms. Daniels’ representative was trying to sell the story and that the National Enquirer could purchase it for $120,000. But the publisher said he didn’t buy it because it was too expensive.

However, he said he suggested to Mr. Cohen at the time that they could buy the story himself to prevent Ms. Daniels from making the claims in public. Mr. Cohen, now a frequent Trump critic in the media, is expected to testify as a witness in the case.

He recalled in court, “I said to Michael, ‘My suggestion to you is that you should buy the story, and you should take it off the market because if you don’t and it gets out, I believe the boss will be very angry with you.’”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

From The Epoch Times

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