Why Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2003 tabloid deal came up at Trump's hush-money trial

Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s past personal foibles reemerged in the trial of former President Trump over allegations of a hush-money payment to a porn star in an attempt to cover up their sexual relationship.

Former National Enquirer Publisher David Pecker testified Thursday that he was reluctant to pay off a Playboy model who claimed to have an extramarital affair with Trump because of his experience with Schwarzenegger during his 2003 gubernatorial campaign.

“A number of women called” the tabloid with allegations about trysts with Schwarzenegger, Pecker said, adding that before the bodybuilder-turned-movie star’s gubernatorial bid, he had established an agreement with Schwarzenegger that “I would call him and advise him of any stories that were out there, and I ended up buying them for a period of time.”

Pecker made the remarks as he testified about suppressing stories about Trump’s relationships with Playboy model Karen McDougal and adult film actor Stormy Daniels. The trial centers on a $130,000 payment to Daniels to not disclose an alleged 2006 encounter with Trump, 77. He has denied having affairs with both women.

‘Catch and Kill’

The case centers on “catch and kill,” a strategy by tabloids such as the Enquirer to obtain the rights to a story and then bury it.

Pecker testified that 30 to 40 women approached his company after Schwarzenegger announced his gubernatorial bid in 2003 about alleged sexual relationships with or harassment by the actor, and said he spent “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to obtain the rights for the women’s stories.

The Times reported in 2005 that days after Schwarzenegger entered the race, the publisher of the Enquirer pledged to pay a woman $20,000 to sign a confidentiality agreement about an alleged affair with the action movie star and signed a $1,000 contract with one of her friends.

Governor as magazine editor

In the leadup to the election, The Times reported that more than a dozen women had accused Schwarzenegger of groping them, and after he left office, the paper reported that he had fathered a child with a member of his household staff while married to Kennedy heir and former journalist Maria Shriver.

Months after Schwarzenegger was elected governor, Pecker announced that the former Mr. Universe would serve as executive editor of Muscle & Fitness and FLEX magazines, roles that The Times reported he would be paid millions of dollars to helm.

Schwarzenegger ended the deal in 2005 after it was reported by The Times and the Sacramento Bee, according to The Times’ report.

Representatives of the former governor did not respond to requests for comment on Thursday.

A caustic relationship

Questioning by Trump attorney Emil Bove on Thursday prompted Pecker to describe his arrangement with Schwarzenegger, and his ensuing qualms about dealings with Trump because of how such deals comport with campaign finance laws.

The former president has had a caustic relationship with Schwarzenegger, who replaced Trump as the host of the reality television competition “Celebrity Apprentice” and has spoken out against his fellow Republican.

Since leaving office in 2011, Schwarzenegger has restarted his Hollywood career while focusing his political efforts on fighting climate change and gerrymandering. After the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, he notably spoke out about his personal experiences as a child in Austria after World War II.

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