Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testifies he suppressed a story about alleged Rahm Emanuel affair

The ex-publisher of the National Enquirer tabloid testified during former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial Thursday that in the run-up to Rahm Emanuel’s first run for Chicago mayor, the publisher helped quash a story about an alleged affair Emanuel had.

David Pecker, who has had a long relationship with Emanuel and has contributed tens of thousands of dollars to his political campaigns over the years, testified he paid $20,000 for a story about an alleged Emanuel affair before Emanuel’s Chicago mayoral campaign kicked off in 2010, according to testimony reported by Politico.

The Enquirer then did not report on the allegations, effectively preventing them from becoming public, according to the Politico report.

Pecker testified he had a relationship with Emanuel’s brother, Ari, a well-known Hollywood talent agent, and had worked with him to buy stories about celebrities and suppress them, a process known as “catch-and-kill,” according to Politico.

Emanuel, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, could not be reached for comment Thursday. He served two terms as Chicago’s mayor, before opting not to run for reelection in 2019 amid fallout from the Chicago police shooting of Laquan McDonald.

Pecker was on the stand Thursday in the trial in which Trump is charged with falsifying business records to cover up hush money payments to suppress stories about his sex life as he was running for president in 2016.

Pecker’s statements about catching and killing the alleged Emanuel affair story and stories he said would have been damaging to various celebrities came under cross-examination by Trump’s lawyers.

Emanuel’s ties to Pecker go back years, according to campaign finance reports that show that around the same time Pecker testified he was catching and killing a story for Emanuel he was also contributing to Emanuel’s first successful bid to run for Chicago mayor.

Pecker contributed $5,000 to the Chicago for Rahm Emanuel campaign fund on Nov. 12, 2010, one day before Emanuel formally declared he was running for mayor at a rally at Coonley Elementary School on Chicago’s North Side.

In all, Pecker and his company, American Media Inc., contributed $33,200 to Emanuel’s mayoral campaign fund, according to records with the Illinois State Board of Elections.

Previously, Pecker and his wife, Karen, contributed $12,000 to Friends of Emanuel for Congress, which was Emanuel’s congressional campaign fund. Emanuel was a congressman from 2003 to 2009, when he stepped down to become President Barack Obama’s chief of staff in the White House. He left the chief of staff job to run for Chicago mayor.

Emanuel aides in the past have said that while the former mayor was working for investment firm Wasserstein Perella & Co. he worked with Pecker on a deal that never came through, according to a 2018 report in the Chicago Sun-Times. In court, Pecker described it as a deal to try to acquire Playboy magazine.

In April 2010, Emanuel told interviewer Charlie Rose he hoped Richard M. Daley would seek reelection, but also said, “One day I would like to run for mayor of the city of Chicago.”

Five months later, Daley announced he would not seek reelection. Shortly thereafter, Emanuel left the Obama White House and began prepping his own run.

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