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‘Hamilton’s’ Daveed Diggs to lecture in Fayetteville | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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‘Hamilton’s’ Daveed Diggs to lecture in Fayetteville | Arkansas Democrat Gazette


Daveed Diggs will speak at 7 p.m. March 27 at the Fayetteville Town Center as part of the University of Arkansas’ Distinguished Lecture Series.

Diggs is an actor, rapper who played Thomas Jefferson and Marquis de Lafayette opposite Lin-Manuel Miranda in “Hamilton” on Broadway. He was the voice of Sebastian in the live-action adaptation of “The Little Mermaid,” Paul, in the Oscar-winning film “Soul,” as well as voices in shows such as “Bob’s Burgers” and “Bojack Horseman.” He is also member of the trio clipping, who received an Hugo nomination for their second album, Splendor & Misery.

The lecture is free to attend, but reservations are required at osa.uark.edu/lectures/upcoming-events.



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5-star lists Arkansas basketball as top option | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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5-star lists Arkansas basketball as top option | Arkansas Democrat Gazette


Class of 2025 5-star prospect Will Riley has narrowed his list to five options, according to Joe Tipton of On3.com.

Riley, 6-8, 180 pounds, of The Phelps School in Malvern, Penn. will look at Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona and Kentucky for his college options and will also consider the National Basketball League. 

He previously listed Duke, Michigan, UCLA, and Villanova as his top schools but didn’t include them in his latest cut, said Tipton. 

Tipton reports Riley, a Canada native, is planning to visit Alabama and Kentucky in the near future.

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Playing for UPLAY Canada during the two Nike EYBL April sessions of last year, Riley averaged about 21.5 points per game.

On3.com rates him the No. 2 small forward and the No. 9 overall recruit in the nation in his class.  He’s rated a 4-star recruit by the three other recruiting services. 



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Transfer DT expected to visit Hogs later in the week | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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Transfer DT expected to visit Hogs later in the week | Arkansas Democrat Gazette


Arkansas is expected to host another transfer defensive tackle on Friday for an official visit. 

He’s expected to leave Fayetteville on Saturday. 

Texas Southern defensive tackle Elinus Noel III, 6-2, 330 pounds, received an offer from Arkansas last Thursday and has others from Baylor, Kansas State, Maryland, Arizona State and Temple.

He announced he was entering the NCAA transfer portal on April 16. 

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He recorded 52 tackles, 7.5 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks as a junior in 10 games last year. He signed with Nichols State as a senior at John Curtis High School in New Orleans in 2021. 

Noel had 18 tackles and 2 tackles for loss as a freshman for the Colonels in 2021. He recorded 35 tackles and 3 tackles for loss in 2022 before training to Texas Southern. 



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Ex-publisher: ‘Eyes and ears’ for Trump | Arkansas Democrat Gazette

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Ex-publisher: ‘Eyes and ears’ for Trump | Arkansas Democrat Gazette


NEW YORK — A veteran tabloid publisher testified Tuesday that he pledged to be Donald Trump’s “eyes and ears” during his 2016 presidential campaign, recounting how he promised the then-candidate that he would help suppress harmful stories and even arranged to purchase the silence of a doorman.

The testimony from David Pecker was designed to bolster the prosecution’s premise of a decades-long friendship between Trump and the former publisher of the National Enquirer that culminated in an agreement to give the candidate’s lawyer a heads-up on negative tips and stories so they could be quashed.

The effort to suppress unflattering information was designed to illegally influence the election, prosecutors have alleged in the first trial of a former American president and the first of four criminal cases against Trump to reach a jury.

Pecker is the first witness against Trump, who faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in connection with hush money payments meant to prevent harmful stories from surfacing in the final days of the 2016 campaign.

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With Trump sitting just feet away in the courtroom, Pecker detailed his intimate, behind-the-scenes involvement in Trump’s rise from political novice to the Republican nomination and the White House. He explained how he and the National Enquirer parlayed rumor-mongering into splashy tabloid stories that smeared Trump’s opponents and, just as crucially, leveraged his connections to suppress seamy stories about Trump, including a porn actor’s claim of an extramarital sexual encounter a decade earlier.

Pecker traced the origins of their relationship to a 1980s meeting at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla..

“I would call him Donald,” Pecker recalled, adding that he had “a great relationship with Mr. Trump over the years” and that he had launched a magazine with him called “Trump Style.”

Pecker described a symbiotic relationship between Trump and the National Enquirer during the former president’s turn as a reality television host on “The Apprentice.” Trump would leak details of the show to the magazine, which in turn would run stories on the contestants.

Their ties were solidified during a pivotal August 2015 meeting at Trump Tower involving Trump, his lawyer and personal fixer Michael Cohen, and another aide, Hope Hicks, in which Pecker was asked what he and the publications he led could do for the campaign.

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Pecker said he volunteered to publish positive stories about Trump and negative stories about his opponents. But that wasn’t all, he said, telling jurors how he told Trump: “I will be your eyes and ears.”

“I said that anything I hear in the marketplace, if I hear anything negative about yourself, or if I hear about women selling stories, I would notify Michael Cohen,” so that the rights could be purchased and the stories could be killed.

“So they would not get published?” asked prosecutor Joshua Steinglass.

“So they would not get published,” Pecker replied.

Cohen, Pecker explained, would feed him information about Trump’s Republican primary opponents, and The National Enquirer would sometimes “embellish” them.

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The tabloid, for example, ran stories about Trump’s primary opponents, including Ben Carson, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio. The prosecutors illustrated the point for jurors, posting several lurid headlines on screens: “Donald Trump Blasts Ted Cruz’s Dad for Photo with J.F.K. Assassin,”https://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2024/apr/24/ex-publisher-eyes-and-ears-for-trump/”Bungling Surgeon Ben Carson left Sponge in Patient’s Brain!” and, in a moment of ironic foreshadowing, “Ted Cruz Shamed by Porn Star.”

At the Trump Tower meeting, Pecker said, he had indicated that he expected many women “would come out to try to sell their stories” about Trump, because he was known as “the most eligible bachelor and dated the most beautiful women.”

Trump was not, in fact, a bachelor. He had married his third and current wife, Melania Trump, in 2005.

COHEN’S ROLE

Pecker painted Cohen as a shadow editor of the National Enquirer’s pro-Trump coverage, directing the tabloid to go after whichever Republican candidate was gaining momentum.

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“I would receive a call from Michael Cohen, and he would direct me and direct Dylan Howard which candidate and which direction we should go,” Pecker said, referring to the tabloid’s then-editor.

Pecker said he underscored to Howard that the agreement with the Trump operation was “highly, highly confidential.” He said he wanted the tabloid’s bureau chiefs to be on the lookout for any stories involving Trump and said he wanted them to verify the stories before alerting Cohen.

Cohen pleaded guilty in 2018 to federal charges including one count of causing an unlawful campaign contribution and one count of making an excessive campaign contribution related to his role in the hush money payments. He also pleaded guilty to tax evasion and making false statements to a bank.

He was once a confidant of Trump’s but is now expected to be a star government witness, and routinely posts profane broadsides against Trump on social media.

Trump’s lawyers are expected to make attacks on Cohen’s credibility a foundation of their defense, but in opening with Pecker, prosecutors hoped to focus attention on a witness with a less volatile backstory. Besides maintaining that Trump is innocent, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told jurors that Cohen cannot be trusted and has “an obsession with getting Trump.”

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GAG ORDER HEARING

Pecker’s testimony Tuesday came after a hearing earlier in the day in which prosecutors urged Judge Juan M. Merchan to hold Trump in contempt and fine him $1,000 for each of 10 social media posts that they say violated an earlier gag order.

Prosecutors argued that the trial is threatened by Trump’s repeated attacks on witnesses and jurors, mostly launched on social media and his campaign website. They urged Merchan to hold Trump in contempt over what they said were 11 violations of a gag order that bars the former president from attacking witnesses, prosecutors, jurors and court staff, as well as their relatives.

When Blanche claimed that the former president was trying to comply with the order, Merchan replied, “You’re losing all credibility with the court.”

The gag-order hearing, held with the jury out of the courtroom, demonstrated a jarring reality for Trump as he seeks to reclaim the White House while under indictment: His political reflexes, and the norm-busting ethos that has defined the Trump era, often clash with the letter of the law.

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Witnesses in the case “rightly fear” being subjected to the former president’s “vitriol,” a prosecutor, Christopher Conroy, told the judge. He rattled off statements that Manhattan prosecutors believe crossed the line, including calling Cohen and porn actor Stormy Daniels “sleaze bags” and reposting an attack on the jury pool. That happened the night before a juror who had already been seated asked to be excused.

“What happened here was exactly what this order was meant to prevent, and the defendant doesn’t care,” Conroy said.

Blanche argued that Trump’s posts were not personal and did not violate the order, because he was simply responding to “a barrage of political attacks.”

But Merchan implored Blanche to stick to the facts and the law.

Merchan did not immediately rule, but he seemed skeptical of defense arguments that Trump was merely responding in his posts to others’ attacks and had been trying to comply with the order.

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CATCH AND KILL

Prosecutors allege that Trump sought to illegally influence the 2016 race through a practice known in the tabloid industry as “catch-and-kill” — catching a potentially damaging story by buying the rights to it and then killing it through agreements that prevent the paid person from telling the story to anyone else.

In this case, that included a $130,000 payment to Daniels to silence her claims of an extramarital sexual encounter that Trump denies. Prosecutors also described other arrangements, including one that paid a former Playboy model $150,000 to suppress claims of a nearly yearlong affair with the married Trump, which Trump also denies.

In another instance, Pecker recounted a $30,000 payment from the National Enquirer to a Trump Tower doorman for the rights to a rumor that Trump had fathered a child with an employee at Trump World Tower. The tabloid concluded the story was not true, and the woman and Trump have denied the allegations.

As Pecker described receiving the tip in court, Trump shook his head.

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Pecker said upon hearing the rumor, he immediately called Cohen, who said it was “absolutely not true” but that he would look into whether the people involved had indeed worked for Trump’s company.

“I made the decision to purchase the story because of the potential embarrassment it had to the campaign and to Mr. Trump,” Pecker said.

In response to the prosecutor’s question about who he understood the boss to be, Pecker replied: “Donald Trump.”

Explaining why he decided to have the National Enquirer foot the bill, Pecker testified: “This was going to be a very big story. I believe it was important that this story be removed from the marketplace.”

If he published the story, Pecker said, it would be “probably the biggest sale of the National Enquirer since the death of Elvis Presley.”

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Jurors viewed an internal Enquirer email and invoice describing the payments to the doorman to kill his story. One document describes the funds coming from the publication’s “corporate” account. An invoice references an “immediate” $30,000 bank transfer payment for “‘Trump’s non-published story.”

Information for this article was contributed by Michael R. Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Eric Tucker, Jake Offenhartz and Jill Colvin of The Associated Press; and by Jonah E. Bromwich, Ben Protess and Maggie Haberman of The New York Times.

    Former President Donald Trump waits for the start of proceedings in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, Pool)
 
 
  photo  Former President Donald Trump appears in Manhattan criminal court on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 in New York. (Curtis Means/DailyMail.com via AP, Pool)
 
 
  photo  Former president Donald Trump, left, watches as David Pecker answers questions on the witness stand, far right, from assistant district attorney Joshua Steingless, in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
 
 
  photo  Defense attorney Todd Blanche, at podium, makes arguments challenging the contempt charges to Judge Juan Merchan , Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
 
 
  photo  Judge Juan Merchan presides over Donald Trump’s trial in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
 
 
  photo  Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump walks in Manhattan state court in New York, Monday, April 23, 2024. (Brendan McDermid/Pool Photo via AP)
 
 
  photo  Former President Donald Trump speaks upon arriving at Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, Pool)
 
 
  photo  Republican presidential candidate and former U.S. President Donald Trump gestures while he walks, as his criminal trial over charges that he allegedly falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 continues, at Manhattan state court in New York, Tuesday, April 23, 2024. (Brendan McDermid/Pool Photo via AP)
 
 
  photo  Former president Donald Trump waits for the start of proceedings in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in New York. Before testimony resumes Tuesday, the judge will hold a hearing on prosecutors’ request to sanction and fine Trump over social media posts they say violate a gag order prohibiting him from attacking key witnesses. (AP Photo/Yuki Iwamura, Pool)
 
 



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