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  5. Trump thought hush money was risky because 'it always gets out,' National Enquirer exec testifies. In this case, Trump was right.

Trump thought hush money was risky because 'it always gets out,' National Enquirer exec testifies. In this case, Trump was right.

Laura Italiano   

Trump thought hush money was risky because 'it always gets out,' National Enquirer exec testifies. In this case, Trump was right.
  • Donald Trump's Manhattan hush-money trial is in its second week.
  • On Tuesday, David Pecker testified that Trump was prophetically hesitant over hush money.

Donald Trump should have gone with his gut on this one.

In the summer before his election, the then-candidate apparently wanted nothing to do with buying the silence of a Playboy Bunny.

The model Karen McDougal was shopping around a story of a love affair with Trump from 10 years prior. But in testimony on Tuesday in Trump's Manhattan hush-money trial, it was said that the former president was queasy about the required payoff.

The trial's first witness, the former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker, testified that Trump said he was hesitant because "it always gets out."

Trump's alleged words — and worries — would prove prophetic.

Not only would news of McDougal's $150,000 payoff eventually "get out," but so would the $130,000 payoff to a second sex-accuser, the porn star Stormy Daniels — the very payoff behind Trump's ongoing hush-money trial.

Trump has strenuously denied having an affair with either of the women. Trump has also derided as a political "witch hunt" District Attorney Alvin Bragg's accusations that he falsified business documents to disguise the Daniels payment as "legal fees."

Bragg says the documents were falsified to hide what was actually an illegal campaign expenditure meant to keep 2016 voters from finding out about Daniels.

"I think the story should be purchased, and you should buy it," Pecker recalled telling Trump about McDougal's accusations during a June 2016 phone call.

Pecker told jurors he'd been helping his friend Trump for years through a so-called "catch-and-kill" strategy in which dangerous stories would be purchased by the tabloid and "taken off the market" instead of published.

But Pecker said on Tuesday, his second day on the witness stand, that Trump wanted nothing to do with the McDougal payoff.

"He says, 'I don't buy any stories,'" Pecker told the five-woman, seven-man jury about Trump's reaction.

"He said, 'Any time you do something like this, it always gets out.'"

Prosecutors for Bragg allege that Trump indeed kept his fingerprints off the $150,000 in National Enquirer cash that purchased McDougal's silence. The cash came out of Pecker's pocket.

But Trump is now on trial for a second hush-money payment that prosecutors say has Trump's fingerprints all over it — the payment to Daniels.

Prosecutors say Trump used his then-fixer and Trump Organization lawyer, Michael Cohen, as a bagman to handle the $130,000 transfer.

Jurors were told during opening statements that just 11 days before the election, Cohen wired the money — hastily borrowed through a home-equity loan — into a shell company's bank account and from there to Daniels' lawyer.

During an election in which just 80,000 votes in three swing states tipped the scales in Trump's favor, voters never heard Daniels' tale of a fling at a Tahoe golf tournament in 2006, when Melania Trump was home nursing baby Barron.

Bragg alleges that throughout 2016, his first year in office, Trump falsified 34 Trump Org business documents to disguise the monthly reimbursement payments to Cohen as "legal fees."

Prosecutors say that, in reality, the 34 invoices, checks, and ledger entries covered up a payment to Daniels that was actually an illegal campaign expenditure.

The trial is down on Wednesday. Pecker's direct testimony is scheduled to continue Thursday.

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