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The ‘Trump Tower Doorman,’ Often Overlooked in the Saga of Silence, Speaks Out: EXCLUSIVE

The ‘Trump Tower Doorman,’ Often Overlooked in the Saga of Silence, Speaks Out: EXCLUSIVE

The story of the Trump Tower doorman in the Hush Money saga is often overlooked amid tales of Trumpian trysts from Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. But on Thursday, as America gained its first criminal ex-president, Dino Sajudin took his place in the history books.

Sajudin spoke exclusively with the Daily News about being part of the now-infamous list of three people who were allegedly paid to keep silent about unfavorable stories about Donald Trump in the run-up to the 2016 election, and the fact that he had not paid. special attention to the trial even if – in a way – the saga began with him.

Her story was the first example of the “catch and kill” deal that prosecutors say American Media, Inc. made with Trump to buy and remove potentially damaging stories. It’s at the heart of the case that led to Trump’s conviction Thursday on 34 counts of falsifying business records to defraud the American electorate.

Dino Sajudin, pictured with his wife in an undated photo, was the first to be paid as part of Donald Trump's alleged plot to influence the 2016 election. (Obtained by the New York Daily News)
Dino Sajudin, pictured with his wife in an undated photo, was the first to be paid as part of Donald Trump’s alleged plot to influence the 2016 election. (Obtained by the New York Daily News)

“I was the first,” Sajudin said matter-of-factly during this rare interview.

“That’s the reality,” he said. “I’m one of them, I think it’s safe to say – this is the first time a president has been convicted of crimes. So here is. Here, it’s ancient history, that’s how it is.

In the run-up to the 2016 campaign, Sajudin received $30,000 from David Pecker, then publisher of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid, in exchange for remaining silent about his claim that Trump had fathered a love child with a housemaid.

Since then, he has given very few interviews, although he published a book about his experience in 2019. As his story was thrust back into the spotlight and dissected by lawyers, trial participants and the media, Sadjudin remained silent.

David Pecker photographed in New York in 2014.

P.A.

David Pecker, Chairman and CEO of American Media, speaks to attendees at the Shape & Men’s Fitness Super Bowl party in New York, January 31, 2014. (Marion Curtis via AP, File)

Originally from Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, Sajudin kept the case at arm’s length. The media attention that garnered when news of his story first broke in 2018 was a “headache” he wasn’t looking to repeat, he told The News.

He said he was too “paranoid” to follow the trial closely: “I’ll watch it when I can, I’ll check the news summaries, stuff like that. »

“You always feel like, ‘Oh, is someone following you?’ he said, recalling how reporters flooded the street in front of his house and followed him on his way to work. “Your brain runs away with it.” I really don’t want to go back to the way it was. At the time, it was a nightmare.

The transaction with Sajudin, as well as the payment to secure the silence of Playboy model Karen McDougal, was described and examined in detail throughout the trial, although neither was called to testify. Stormy Daniels, whose alleged tryst with Trump is the basis of the payoffs for which Trump was convicted, remained on the stand for days.

Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal.  (AP and Getty)
From left to right: Michael Cohen, Stormy Daniels and Karen McDougal. (AP and Getty)

Sajudin said he was never contacted by the district attorney’s office regarding the trial and was not invited to appear before the grand jury.

Prosecutors say the plan was hatched during an August 2015 meeting between Trump, Pecker and Michael Cohen. A few months after the meeting, Pecker said he learned that Sajudin was circulating the story that Trump was having an affair with an employee.

“If the story were true and I published it, it would probably be the National Enquirer’s biggest sale since Elvis Presley died,” Pecker, who negotiated the deal with Sajudin, said last month, adding that it “would have been very embarrassing for the campaign” if he were to come out.

Judge Juan Merchan, left, listens as David Pecker testifies on the witness stand in Manhattan Criminal Court, Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York.  (Elizabeth Williams via AP)
Judge Juan Merchan, left, listens as David Pecker testifies on the witness stand in Manhattan Criminal Court, Friday, April 26, 2024, in New York. (Elizabeth Williams via AP)

Gatekeeper detailed the deal AMI struck with him in late 2015, paying him $30,000 for the exclusive rights to the story – which has since been widely discredited, although he said he still had suspicions. Both the Trump Organization and the employee in question have denied the story, and Sajudin’s ex-wife called him a pathological liar in a 2018 interview with the News.

The former Trump Tower doorman said he was “very surprised” that the verdict came so quickly – after just two days of deliberations.

During the trial and in his remarks Friday, Trump criticized Judge Juan Merchan, repeatedly calling him “corrupt” and “rigged” overall.

“I don’t think it’s a good idea for Trump to go after the judge right now, because it’s far from over,” Sajudin said. “The judge still has to sentence him, so don’t piss off the judge.” You know, it doesn’t make sense to me… Why poke the bear? Wait for them to condemn you and go and say what you are going to say.

Donald Trump leaves the lobby of Trump Tower after speaking in Manhattan, New York, Friday, May 31, 2024. (Barry Williams for the New York Daily News)
Donald Trump leaves the lobby of Trump Tower after speaking in Manhattan, New York, Friday, May 31, 2024. (Barry Williams for the New York Daily News)

He found it a bit absurd that Trump, who held daily news conferences in the hallway outside the courtroom, was complaining about his court-imposed silence order.

“A bit ironic,” he texted. “Trump is upset by the silence imposed on him. Isn’t that why he’s in court now. For imposing silence on people.

Sajudin said there was no bad blood between him and the former president. In fact, he said he would even vote for him in November whether or not he was behind bars.