Trump Attorney Attempts To Poke Holes In Witness Credibility As Bragg Trial Hits Day 8

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NEW YORK– Former President Donald Trump’s attorney attempted to poke holes Friday in the credibility of the Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s first witness, former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, as the first full week of testimony came to a close.

Defense attorney Emil Bove resumed his cross-examination of Pecker Friday morning, continuing to drive home the point that purchasing stories is “standard operating procedure” for Pecker’s tabloid while working to draw out inconsistencies in his testimony. Some jabs landed, some seemed to fall flat: the exchange was nevertheless the most heated in a tedious day of laying the groundwork on both sides, which saw testimony from two new witnesses.

“I’ve been truthful to the best of my recollection,” Pecker told Bove at the end of cross-examination, where Bove had whipped back and forth between various topics trying to highlight contradictions.

Some points of contention were relatively small, like whether Trump had thanked him during a 2017 meeting at Trump Tower “handling” the Karen McDougal and doorman stories. Others of greater consequence, like whether American Media’s conciliation agreement with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) in 2021 included an admission of a campaign finance violation.

“Was that another mistake?” Bove pressed Pecker on the former point. Pecker declined to recant his earlier testimony.

Bove also sought to demonstrate that Pecker’s deal with McDougal had a “legitimate business purpose.” At one point, Pecker agreed that he told Cohen after consulting with legal counsel that the agreement was “bulletproof.”

Trump is facing 34 felony counts for allegedly falsifying records related to a $130,000 payment made in 2016 to keep porn star Stormy Daniels quiet about her claims of an affair. Prosecutors are seeking to prove that Trump, along with Pecker and Cohen, engaged in a “conspiracy” to illegally influence the 2016 election — a crime not outlined in the indictment — and sought to conceal it by falsifying records reimbursing Cohen for the Daniels payment.

The “conspiracy” alleged by prosecutors includes payments to suppress three damaging stories: a doorman’s false claim that Trump fathered an illegitimate child, former Playboy model Karen McDougal’s claim of an affair and porn star Stormy Daniel’s allegation of an affair.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass, who stepped up to again question Pecker after Bove sat down, attempted to flip the defense’s argument that this was all “standard operating procedure” and rebut suggestions Pecker had made inaccurate statements.

At the defense’s suggestion that non-disclosure agreements with sources are typical for the tabloid, Steinglass asked how many others the CEO had coordinated with a presidential candidate for the benefit of the campaign.

“It’s the only one,” Pecker said. (RELATED: Trump Defense Attorney Fires Crippling Shots At Alvin Bragg’s Case Just Minutes Into Cross-Examination)

Steinglass noted the story about a playboy model having a sexual affair with a presidential candidate probably would have sold well — “like National Enquirer gold” — pressing if he “killed” the story because it helped Trump.

“Yes,” Pecker said.

Pecker wrapped up his testimony on Friday, the fourth day he had been on the stand, enabling two new witnesses to be sworn in.

Rhona Graff, Trump’s former executive assistant, responded to questions from the prosecution relating to Trump’s calendar, contacts and emails, which she was responsible for organizing. Graff said she recalled once seeing Stormy Daniels at Trump Tower, which she assumed was to discuss being cast on The Apprentice, and noted the Trump Organization is paying her legal fees.

She had only positive things to say about her former boss, who she said was “fair and respectful.” In response to a question from Trump attorney Susan Necheles, she also noted Trump would sometimes sign checks while multitasking,

Gary Farro, who was previously a senior managing director at First Republic Bank, where he had Cohen as a client, also testified.

Prosecutor Rebecca Mangold had Farro walk the jury through emails and documents relating to Cohen’s requests to create accounts for Resolution Consultants, the entity Cohen intended to use to make the McDougal payment, and Essential Consultants, the entity Cohen created to pay Stormy Daniels.

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