Takeaways from Stormy Daniels’ testimony at the Trump hush money trial | Politics

by 24USATVMay 8, 2024, 12:01 a.m. 22
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Adult film star Stormy Daniels dished out salacious details of her alleged sexual encounter with former President Donald Trump in 2006 from the witness stand on Tuesday, describing how they met at a celebrity golf tournament and what she says happened when she went to Trump’s Lake Tahoe hotel room.

In a mostly casual and conversational tone, Daniels recounted details from the floors and furniture in Trump’s hotel room to the contents of his toiletry kit in the bathroom. At one point in court, Daniels threw back her arm and lifted her leg in the witness box to re-create the moment she says Trump posed on his hotel bed for her, stripped down to his undergarments.

But some of the details Daniels described were so explicit that Judge Juan Merchan cut her off at several points. And Trump’s lawyers argued that Daniels had unfairly prejudiced the jury, asking Merchan to declare a mistrial. The judge denied the request but added that some of the details from Daniels were “better left unsaid.”

Crucially, however, Daniels also testified about the interest that Trump and his former lawyer Michael Cohen seemed to have had in buying her story after the “Access Hollywood” tape came out just before the 2016 election.

The adult film star will be back on the witness stand when the trial resumes Thursday. Trump’s attorney Susan Necheles will resume her cross-examination of Daniels following nearly 90 minutes of tense questioning Tuesday afternoon.

Here are the takeaways from Day 13 of the Trump hush money trial:

On Tuesday morning, Daniels walked the jury through the details of her 2006 encounter with Trump in his hotel room, where the adult film star says she slept with Trump. (Trump has denied the affair.)

Daniels described what was in Trump’s hotel room, including the black-and-white tile floor and the big mahogany table in the center of the foyer. She described the dinner conversation – she was impressed Trump asked about the business of the adult film industry, not just the sex.

She also told jurors about when she “spanked” Trump “right on the butt” with a copy of one of his magazines.

Daniels then said that after she went to the bathroom, she emerged to find Trump on the hotel bed in his boxers and a T-shirt. “At first I was just startled, like a jump scare. I wasn’t expecting someone to be there, especially minus a lot of clothing,” she testified.

She said that Trump “stood up between me and the door. Not in a threatening manner. He didn’t come at me, he didn’t rush at me. Nothing like that.” Daniels said she blacked out while they had sex: “I had my clothes and my shoes off. I removed my bra. We were in missionary position.”

At this point, the judge cut off Daniels from getting into any further detail. It was one of several objections he sustained either on his own or at Trump’s attorneys’ request.

Daniels went on to testify that she was “shaking” while she got dressed and made sure to have future meetings with Trump in public. Daniels said that while she told lots of people she met Trump and went to his hotel room, she confided in very few people about the sexual encounter, in part because she was “ashamed.”

Overall, the testimony was so lengthy and detailed that Merchan cautioned Daniels on multiple occasions to slow down and listen to the questions and answer them briefly. A prosecutor also gave Daniels instructions specifically to stay focused while answering questions.

Daniels would go on to describe how she stayed touch with Trump, even coming to briefly see him at Trump Tower to talk about the “Celebrity Apprentice” reality show.

Daniels said that in 2015, after Trump began running for president, her then-publicist Gina Rodriguez tried to sell her story. But Rodriguez didn’t find much interest until after the “Access Hollywood” tape of Trump was released in October 2016 – eventually leading to the discussions with AMI and then Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels $130,000 not to go public with her case.

Daniels confirmed that the contract agreement between Peggy Peterson and David Dennison used pseudonyms for her and Trump, and that she signed the agreement.

Under that agreement, Daniels said she did not comment on news stories about the AMI deals or any affairs, saying she felt bound by the nondisclosure agreement she signed with Cohen.

She also explained how she was not truthful when she denied that she had an affair with Trump in statements released in 2018 after the hush money payment became public. She says she signed a statement before going on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” in a way she’s never signed her name before as a “tip off” to the late-night talk show host.

Trump’s lawyers argued the judge should declare a mistrial after the morning of salacious testimony from Daniels.

Trump still vehemently denies the allegations, his attorney Todd Blanche said, arguing there was no way to “un-ring that bell” for jurors who have now heard unfairly prejudicial testimony. Blanche argued that the testimony had nothing to do with the district attorney’s case about falsifying business records.

“This is the kind of testimony that makes it impossible to come back from, not even talking about the fact that we’re talking about somebody (who) is going to go out and campaign this afternoon,” Blanche said, adding that media outlets were already reporting at lunch about Daniels’ narrative of events.

“How can we come back from this in a way that’s fair to President Trump?” Blanche challenged.

Hoffinger said the testimony was “highly probative of the defendant’s intent” and Trump’s “motive for paying this off.”

Merchan ultimately denied the mistrial motion but said he felt Daniels was a difficult witness to control.

“I do think there are something things that would have been better left unsaid. Having said that, I don’t believe we’re at a point where a mistrial is warranted,” he said.

Merchan also said he showed his alignment with the defense in sustaining most of their objections during the testimony – and that he was surprised there weren’t more objections.

“The defense has to take some responsibility for that,” Merchan said.

Trump signaled his lawyers’ strategy during the lunch break, posting on Truth Social: “THE PROSECUTION, WHICH HAS NO CASE, HAS GONE TOO FAR. MISTRIAL!”

Trump attorney Necheles didn’t take long to challenge Daniels’ story in cross-examination, accusing the adult film actress of hating Trump.

“You want him to go to jail?” Necheles continued.

“I want him to be held accountable,” Daniels responded.

Daniels’ body language was tense and her tone notably shifted as Necheles attempted to dismantle her credibility. Daniels gave short, terse answers to many of her questions, defiantly responding “false” and “no” while disputing Necheles’ assertions that she had made up details in her story or that she was trying to extort Trump.

Necheles, for instance, pressed Daniels about disobeying a court order to pay Trump’s lawyer’s fees for filing a frivolous lawsuit, and about whether she was making money from telling her story.

“You’ve been making money by claiming to have had sex with President Trump for more than a decade,” asked Necheles.

“I’ve been making money by telling my story about what happened to me,” Daniels said.

“That story has made you a lot of money, right?” Necheles asked.

“It’s also cost me a lot of money,” Daniels responded.

Daniels was combative with Necheles at multiple points, as Trump’s attorney argued that she had made up a story about being threatened by a man in Las Vegas in 2011 and that she was changing her story depending on who was paying her.

Near the end of questioning Tuesday, Necheles equated the $130,000 payment before the 2016 election to extortion – a similar line of questioning Trump’s lawyers used with Daniels’ attorney, Keith Davidson.

“You are looking to extort money from President Trump,” Necheles asked.

“That’s what you did, right?” Necheles followed up.

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