‘Catch And Kill’ Architect Details Trump-Boosting Scheme

In the 1990s, Donald Trump famously gossiped to the tabloids about himself, a headline-chaser who desired nothing more than to see his name in lights, or at least in the supermarket checkout line.

But they were Trump’s good old days, a period of clubs and models, long before he ran for president of the United States and had to put an end to the vulgar, party boy yarns he used to tell.

David Pecker, the former publishing CEO whose titles included the National Enquirer, set out his “catch and kill” approach in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday in an attempt to boost Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.

In a then-secret meeting in August 2015, Trump and his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen asked Pecker how he and his magazines might “help the campaign,” the 72-year-old witness said.

Speaking casually to the crowded courtroom, Pecker, who will resume his testimony in the high-profile trial on Thursday, recalled stating, “I would run or publish positive stories about Mr. Trump, and negative stories about his opponents.”

“I said that I would also be the eyes and ears” in service of the campaign, he added.

Under questioning from prosecutors, Pecker told to jurors that in addition to pushing good stories in his magazines, he would warn Cohen of any potentially damaging sources on the move.

In particular, the smooth-talking tabloid man predicted that “there would be a lot of women” trying to peddle tales about Trump because the then-candidate “was well-known as the most eligible bachelor,” despite having married his third wife, Melania, in 2005.

Trump, on the other hand, “dated the most beautiful women,” Pecker went on to say, “and it was clear that, based on my past experience, that when someone is running for a public office like this, it is very common for these women to call up a magazine like the National Enquirer to try to sell their stories.”

‘Fake news’ sells

Speaking under oath, Pecker, who wore a pink tie and slicked back hair, effectively admitted to trafficking so-called “fake news” for his own and Trump’s gain, while also paying off multiple people whose stories had the potential to harm candidate Trump’s reputation.

He went on to say “popular stories about Mr. Trump” in addition to “negative stories about his opponents” were going to “only increase newsstand sales.”

“Publishing these types of stories was also going to benefit his campaign,” Pecker said. “Both parties benefited from it.”

Pecker offered a portal into the editorial practices of outlets like his own, which had no shame in paying for stories and focused far more on the cover than the content.

“We would do a lot of research to determine what… the proper cover of the magazine would be,” Pecker said.

“Every time we did this, Mr. Trump would be the top celebrity,” Pecker said, describing the magnate’s pre-politician days and pointing to his star turn as the top guy on his own reality show “The Apprentice,” and its celebrity-starring sequel.

In recalling Trump’s first campaign era, the prosecution used hyperbolic headlines attacking the Republican’s opponents, such as “Bungling surgeon Ben Carson left sponge in patient’s brain” and “Ted Cruz shamed by pornstar.”

According to Pecker, such ideas frequently originated with or were modified by Cohen, Trump’s former fixer who is set to testify in the New York state trial.

However, Pecker stated that he intended to maintain his “agreement among friends” with Trump and Cohen “as quiet as possible.”

One of the stories he claimed he buried against Donald Trump had a Trump Tower doorman hawking a false claim that Trump had fathered a child out of wedlock with one of his former employees.

Pecker stated that he believed it was critical to buy the story and keep it quiet for Trump’s benefit, as well as his own.

He said that if the allegation was genuine, he wanted to publicize it “after the election.”

“If the story was true, and I published it, it would be probably the biggest sale of the National Enquirer since the death of Elvis Presley.”

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