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Tabloid Publisher Defiant as Trump Lawyer Tries to Shake His Confidence

The first week of testimony in the criminal trial of Donald J. Trump wound down on Friday with intense questioning of the prosecution’s inaugural witness about his efforts before the 2016 presidential election to hide salacious stories about the Republican candidate.

The witness, David Pecker, who has known the former president for decades, faced a stern cross-examination from Mr. Trump’s defense lawyer, Emil Bove. Mr. Bove pressed Mr. Pecker on two deals he struck in 2015 and 2016 with two people who had been seeking to sell tales about Mr. Trump. Those stories were then buried, a scheme described by prosecutors as “catch and kill.”

In a tense moment midmorning, Mr. Bove worked to undermine previous testimony from Mr. Pecker that Mr. Trump had thanked him after the election for helping to derail one such account.

Mr. Bove, a former federal prosecutor, pushed Mr. Pecker to explain a seeming discrepancy between a 2018 interview with the F.B.I. — which did not note the supposed thanks from Mr. Trump — and his testimony this week.

Mr. Pecker, a former tabloid titan who was once the publisher of The National Enquirer, resisted the implication that there was a contradiction, but eventually acknowledged the inconsistency. Still, he remained defiant, saying that he had been honest on the stand.

“I know what the truth is,” Mr. Pecker said, suggesting that F.B.I. agents might have erred in their notes. “I can’t state why this is written this way. I know exactly what was said to me.”

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