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Lawyers representing Trump attempt to undermine the credibility of the first witness for the prosecution in the hush money trial

Donald Trump at Manhattan criminal court (Via Tom Blaine/Shutterstock)

Donald Trump’s defense team challenged the credibility of the prosecution’s first witness in his hush money case on Friday. They aimed to discredit testimony that detailed an arrangement between Trump and a tabloid to suppress negative stories during his 2016 presidential campaign.

David Pecker, former publisher of the National Enquirer, returned to the witness stand for the fourth day. The defense questioned his memory and past statements, attempting to undermine testimony crucial to the prosecution’s case against the first former U.S. president to face criminal charges.

Pecker’s testimony has given jurors insight into the tabloid’s practice of buying rights to stories to prevent their publication, known as “catch-and-kill.” This practice is central to the prosecution’s argument that Trump illegally influenced the 2016 election by suppressing damaging stories about himself.

Donald Trump answers media questions (Via Danny Smith/Getty Images)

During cross-examination, Trump’s lawyers seemed to lay the groundwork for their argument that any arrangements Trump had with Pecker were intended to protect Trump, his image, and his family, rather than influence the campaign.

The defense also tried to show that Trump’s dealings with the National Enquirer were not unique to him. They pointed out that the tabloid published negative stories about Trump’s opponent, Hillary Clinton, well before a key meeting in August 2015 that is pivotal to the case.

In that meeting, Pecker testified that he promised to be vigilant about negative stories concerning Trump’s campaign and to notify Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, so they could be suppressed.

However, Pecker admitted under questioning by Trump’s lawyer, Emil Bove, that terms like “catch-and-kill” were not discussed during the meeting. He also clarified that there was no talk of financial arrangements, such as the tabloid paying individuals on Trump’s behalf for story rights, during that time.

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