David Pecker says he published attacks on Ted Cruz at the request of Trump’s personal fixer

Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified Tuesday that Michael Cohen helped direct tabloid attacks on Trump’s Republican adversaries in the 2016 presidential race.

Testifying at Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial, Pecker said that the former president’s ex-fixer would call him and direct him to focus negative coverage on whichever Trump rival had been most successful on the debate stage, The New York Times reported.

“He would send me information about Ted Cruz or about Ben Carson or Marco Rubio, and that was the basis of our story, and then we would embellish it a little,” Pecker said.

In court, according to the Times, Trump “leaned in toward the monitor” and “squinted” to look at headlines from The Enquirer that benefited him, such as, “Bungling surgeon Ben Carson left sponge in patient’s brain!” and “Ted Cruz sex scandal — 5 secret mistresses.”

In particular, Trump pounced on the negative coverage of Ted Cruz, his chief rival toward the end of the 2016 primaries, including the false theory that Cruz’s father had helped John F. Kennedy’s assassin.

Pecker testified that Dylan Howard, former editor-in-chief at the Enquirer, worked with the tabloid’s research department to Frankenstein the article. “We mashed the photos and the different picture with Lee Harvey Oswald … we mashed the two together,” Pecker said. “That’s how that story was prepared — created, I would say.”

Pecker said that his tabloid would also praise Trump as part of an effort to assist his campaign. The magazine published headlines such as, “Donald Trump: ‘Healthiest individual ever elected!'”