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Prosecutors in Trump’s New York Trial Prove Their Witness Is a Lying 'Pecker' Who Faked Evidence

AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, Pool

There is a phenomenon this author likes to call ‘lawyer’s eyes.’ Of course, it is not literally about a lawyer’s actual peepers—a blind lawyer can have ‘lawyer’s eyes’—but it is about how a lawyer sees a set of facts differently than lay people. This is not necessarily bad or good but it is a different perspective.

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Thus, we get this post from Ryan Saavedra (discussing a story we previously mentioned on this site):

The cut off text reads:

‘David Pecker, the former publisher of the National Enquirer, testified at Donald Trump's trial Tuesday that the tabloid completely manufactured a negative story in 2016 about the father of Sen. Ted Cruz, of Texas, who was then Trump's rival for the GOP presidential nomination. ...

Manhattan prosecutor Joshua Steinglass asked Pecker about the story's origins during the trial Tuesday in Manhattan. Pecker said that then-National Enquirer editor-in-chief Dylan Howard and the tabloid's research department got involved, and Pecker indicated that they faked the photo that was the foundation for the story.’

He links to an NBC News story that also says:

‘We mashed the photos and the different picture with Lee Harvey Oswald. And mashed the two together. And that’s how that story was prepared — created I would say,’ Pecker said on the witness stand.

… 

The revelation came up as the prosecution focused on negative articles that were published by the tabloid about Trump's Republican opponents at the time. Pecker explained that it was Michael Cohen, Trump's personal lawyer, who would orchestrate the planting of these stories.

Pecker said Cohen would call and say they'd like his publication to run an article on a certain candidate, adding that Cohen would then send him a piece about Cruz, for example, and the National Enquirer ‘would embellish it from there.’

Pecker suggested that Trump was directly involved in the process, too. He said that the negative stories about Trump's opponents were published as part of an arrangement that was struck in 2015 at a Trump Tower meeting that also included a directive to write positive stories about the real estate mogul.

Steinglass also entered into evidence National Enquirer headlines published during the 2016 race about Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., who was also running for president. They suggested that he had a love child and had a connection to cocaine.

Asked why the tabloid ran stories about the senators and candidate Ben Carson, Pecker said, ‘After the Republican debates, and based on the success that some of the other candidates had, I would receive a call from Michael Cohen, and he would direct me and direct Dylan Howard which candidate and which direction we should go.’

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They also included non-comments from Cruz and Rubio and all of that is rightfully interesting. There is a mild journalistic scandal here, if all of this is true. We say it is a mild one, because this author personally never took the National Enquirer particularly seriously and apparently neither did one of our editors:

However, they do have the feather in their cap of breaking the John Edwards love child story and we remember during that scandal reading pundits that we respected who claimed that the National Enquirer was relatively reputable among tabloids. So, they did have some reputation to lose.

But our lawyer’s eyes immediately saw something else: This is a terrible sign for the prosecution. 

Let us review. According to the testimony provided on direct—meaning the testimony brought out as part of the State’s case—they are showing you evidence that their first witness is … well, what our headline says: A lying Pecker with a history of faking evidence.

Any defense lawyer with more than two brain cells to rub together knows how to deal with that. It’s a cliché to ask such a witness ‘were you lying back then, or are you lying now?’ but only because it is an obvious, logical and devastating question to ask. Sometimes the cliched thing to do is still the smart thing to do.

Now, one can rehabilitate a witness with a history of lying. Judging by this coverage, it doesn’t seem like this Pecker has been shown to have lied under oath. Some people will believe a person is more likely to tell the truth on the stand than in regular life. Another way to rehabilitate that witness is to bring in other evidence to back up what he is claiming. That can be other witnesses, or documentary evidence like emails and the like. Like imagine there are a set of emails where they are discussing creating the fake news stories about Cruz’s father, or something like that.

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But, of course, that runs into the other problem: This Pecker is known to fake documents. Again, we don’t think he submitted any forged photos, etc. to court or any similar official government circumstance (such as a report to the FBI), so just as he might be willing to lie in ordinary life, but not under oath, he might be willing to forge documents, but not if they are going to be submitted under oath.

In short, we think if we are sitting on a jury, that might be instant reasonable doubt on anything that relies on his word or even documentary evidence he might have faked. It’s worth taking a moment to really contemplate what that concept is because it is easy to gloss over that phrase: Proof beyond a reasonable doubt. It doesn’t even technically mean that if you are a juror that you have doubt. It just means that you think it is reasonable for a person to have doubt. Now we are not going to say that this Pecker automatically creates reasonable doubt on any fact the State is trying to prove based on his testimony or documents alone. But we are saying that it is very easy for a fair-minded juror to see it that way. And Trump only needs one to hang the jury.

And the worst thing about this is, for the State, is that this is their first witness. Lawyers are taught that the human mind remembers the first thing they see or hear or the last thing they see or hear the most. Now, sometimes a witness is so important to the foundation of the case, that you have to start with a witness that has some problems with credibility. (And being a credible witness is about more than just honesty.) But judging by this coverage, we have a hard time believing the prosecutors had no other choice but to start with this Pecker.

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One might also reasonably ask why the prosecution is even bringing this up—what is the relevance of this story and why are they calling attention to their problems with their Pecker? Well, first we think the relevance would be to establish that Michael Cohen was Trump’s fixer and to try to at least suggest that Trump knew everything he was up to so they could claim Trump was legally responsible for Cohen’s behavior. Second, lawyers are taught that if your witness has a problem you need to be the one to bring it to the court’s attention, to preserve your own credibility as a lawyer. Of course, a lawyer’s credibility officially doesn’t matter in most cases, but if the jury thinks the prosecutors were lying to them or covering up evidence, that will harm their case.

And what did Hillary Clinton do with the Steele Report?

We always love the ‘we hallucinate you will do a bad thing to us, so we are justified in doing it to you’ type of argument. Indeed, its hard to square that view with Trump’s actual behavior as president. Despite repeatedly saying he wanted to ‘lock her up’ in 2016—it was practically a campaign promise—he never tried to prosecute Hillary Clinton.

Indeed, that feeds into another point. It is often said that when an incumbent president is running for re-election, the election is a referendum on the first term and we think there is a lot of truth in that conventional wisdom. So, in part the Trump-Biden contest is a referendum on Biden’s first term. But the unusual part is that Trump is also seeking a second term, only he is not technically the incumbent and so we think that this is going to be more like a double referendum for a lot of people. Who do you think did a better job? Trump or Biden?

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(Although we do not recommend using the Reagan line of ‘are you better off than you were four years ago?’ because four years ago, we were in a plague unleashed by China. That wasn't his fault, but the comparison you want to make is with their presidencies overall, not 2020 versus 2024.)

Except the evidence is summed up as ‘a lying Pecker said so.’ The claim that Trump paid that Pecker to make up stories through Cohen is definitely in the record, but we are not convinced it is proven.

We’re not sure they ran the bat boy story, though we haven't really studied the issue. We think that is more of a Weekly World News thing. But the rest of his post is valid. The National Enquirer has never struck this author as credible.

*Laughs.* Yes, totally.

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But if that is interference, then the FBI interfered in 2020 when they convinced social media to suppress the Hunter Biden laptop story. And since that would be the FBI—which is supposed to be subordinate to the President, not the other way around—that is much more troubling than some tabloid making up stories that almost no one believes.

Indeed.

Of course, all of this concerned yesterday’s testimony from Pecker. What’s going on today?

That is the actual headline of their article: ‘Pecker Deflates.’ You know, in case you were wondering if we were the only ones making immature jokes about his name today.

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