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Arnie, Tiger Woods and Mark Wahlberg: The celebrities dragged into Trump’s hush money trial

A string of famous names have been dragged into Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial, after four days of testimony from the former publisher of the supermarket tabloid The National Enquirer.

David Pecker became the first witness to take the stand in the former president’s New York hush money trial this week, laying out a so-called “catch-and-kill” scheme at the centre of the case.

Mr Trump is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to conceal a $130,000 payment made to adult film star Stormy Daniels to ensure her silence about an alleged sexual encounter she claims she had with Mr Trump in 2006. Mr Trump denies both the affair and any wrongdoing, pleading not guilty to all of the charges against him and routinely insisting that he is the victim of a “witch hunt.

During his time on the stand, Mr Pecker testified about the alleged plan to buy and then suppress negative stories about Mr Trump ahead of the 2016 presidential election.

Among the stories Mr Pecker testified he had a hand in killing were a bogus allegation originating from a former Trump Tower doorman that Mr Trump had an illegitimate child with a maid who worked at the building as well as a story about an alleged nine-month affair with former Playboy model Karen McDougal.

While laying out his involvement in the alleged scheme to protect Mr Trump’s reputation and offering a glimpse into the practice of so-called “chequebook journalism”, the tabloid mogul also name-dropped numerous other famous figures. None of the celebrities named are accused of any wrongdoing in connection to the case.

Here’s a look at the famous faces who have cropped up in the trial testimony so far:

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger poses during the event ‘Special Dinner for Climate Action’ in January 2024
Arnold Schwarzenegger poses during the event ‘Special Dinner for Climate Action’ in January 2024 (APA/EXPA/AFP/Getty)

The legendary bodybuilder and movie star, who was Mr Trump’s successor as the host of NBC’s The Celebrity Apprentice, was name-dropped during Mr Pecker’s testimony on 25 April.

According to Mr Pecker, the publisher had a similar agreement with Schwarzenegger when he was running to be California’s governor to the one he later allegedly struck with Mr Trump.

“I plan on running for governor and I would like you to not publish any negative stories about me now and in the future, and I’ll continue being the editor of Muscle & Fitness and Flex [magazines] and be a spokesperson,” Mr Pecker recalled Schwarzenegger telling him at the time.

He continued: “The agreement I had with Arnold was, I would call him and advise him of any stories that were out there. And I ended up acquiring and buying them for a period of time.”

After Schwarzenegger was elected governor in 2003, a woman whose story had been acquired by the Enquirer’s parent company American Media Inc took her accusation to The Los Angeles Times, which published it.

“It was very embarrassing,” Mr Pecker testified. “Most of the press approached Arnold when he was governor. And his comment was: ‘Ask my friend David Pecker.’” The ensuing ordeal, he said “made me sensitive about buying any stories in the future. That’s how I became sensitive about this topic.”

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods waves after his final round at the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday in April 2024
Tiger Woods waves after his final round at the Masters golf tournament at Augusta National Golf Club Sunday in April 2024 (AP)

During cross-examination from Mr Trump’s attorney Emile Bove, Mr Pecker testified that he had also purchased photographs of golf superstar Tiger Woods meeting a woman in a Florida parking lot in 2007.

He said he had then used the photos as leverage to persuade Woods to appear on the cover of his title Men’s Fitness.

Mark Wahlberg

Mark Wahlberg attends the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix’s Me Time in 2022
Mark Wahlberg attends the Los Angeles premiere of Netflix’s Me Time in 2022 (Getty)

Mark Wahlberg’s name also cropped up during Mr Pecker’s testimony.

The publisher testified that he had bought a story about an argument between The Departed star and his wife that was never published.

Serena Williams

Serena Williams on the tennis court in Eastbourne, UK, in 2018
Serena Williams on the tennis court in Eastbourne, UK, in 2018 (Gareth Fuller/PA)

The tennis superstar was another suprise name to be mentioned at the trial when she was alluded to in the testimony of Trump’s former White House executive assistant Madeleine Westerhout.

Ms Westerhout was asked about well-known people Mr Trump frequently spoke to by phone, naming the Wimbledon legend alongside other familiar Trumpworld types as Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg and media figures including Bill O’Reilly, Jeanine Pirro, Joe Scarborough and the aforementioned Mr Pecker.

The Independent has contacted representatives for Schwarzenegger, Woods, Wahlberg and Wiliams for comment.


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