As it remains unclear when a potential former President Trump indictment might be voted on by the Manhattan grand jury investigating hush money payments to two women in Trump's orbit during the 2016 presidential campaign, the panel heard from a key witness for a second time. David Pecker, a longtime Trump ally and the former CEO of the National Enquirer's parent company, testified Monday after first appearing before the grand jury in January, the New York Times reports. Pecker is an integral figure in the probe because the company he then led, American Media Inc., secretly helped Trump by engaging in a practice known as "catch-and-kill" to keep a story about Trump's alleged affair with model Karen McDougal quiet until after the election, the AP reports.
The company paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story in August 2016, but didn't actually run the story until the election was over. Pecker and the top editor of the Enquirer also assisted in arranging the hush money deal between Stormy Daniels, who also alleged an affair with Trump, and Trump's then-fixer, Michael Cohen. A source says the grand jury did not vote on an indictment Monday, but the Times notes that "prosecutors have now questioned almost every major player in the hush-money episode ... suggesting that the district attorney’s presentation is nearing an end." (Trump warned of "death and destruction" should he be criminally charged.)