Stormy Daniels delivers intense testimony in Trump’s trial: 6 takeaways

The former president is accused of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to Daniels just before the 2016 election. Trump, 77, has denied the charges and says he did not have sex with Daniels. If convicted, he could face prison time or probation.
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 03:23 IST
Last Updated : 08 May 2024, 03:23 IST

Follow Us :


“The people call Stormy Daniels.”

So began the intense and often uncomfortable testimony of Daniels, who spent almost five hours in a Manhattan courtroom Tuesday recounting her story of a 2006 encounter with Donald Trump and the ensuing hush-money cover-up that has become the bedrock of the prosecution’s case.

Daniels spoke quickly and at length about her first meeting with Trump at a celebrity golf tournament near Lake Tahoe, Nevada.

After the lunch break, Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche moved for a mistrial, arguing that the prosecution’s questions had been designed to embarrass Trump and prejudice the jury.

The judge, Juan Manuel Merchan of state Supreme Court, agreed that some of Daniels’ testimony might have “been better left unsaid,” but he denied a mistrial.

The former president is accused of falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to Daniels just before the 2016 election. Trump, 77, has denied the charges and says he did not have sex with Daniels. If convicted, he could face prison time or probation.

Here are six takeaways from Trump’s 13th day on trial.

Prosecutors took a risk with their witness.

Jurors heard a vivid account of the Lake Tahoe encounter and met the woman who had received the hush-money payment. This could have presented a risk for prosecutors, depending on whether the jury viewed Daniels’ story as prurient or powerful.

Daniels described meeting Trump at the golf event and accepting his dinner invitation after her publicist said, “What could possibly go wrong?”

She recalled that Trump had been wearing pajamas when she met him at his hotel suite, and she asked him to change. They discussed the porn industry, and he asked about residuals, unions and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, she said.

She said they had talked about his family, including his daughter, whom he likened to Daniels: “People underestimate her as well,” Daniels recalled him saying. They also discussed his wife; Trump said they did not “even sleep in the same room.” He suggested Daniels might appear on “The Apprentice.”

When she later emerged from the bathroom, Daniels found Trump partially undressed, she said. The sex was consensual, she said, but there was a power “imbalance.”

Trump received another warning.

Merchan has already held the former president in contempt 10 times, fined him $10,000 and twice threatened to send him to jail. On Tuesday, Trump again drew the judge’s ire after Merchan said he had been “cursing audibly” and “shaking his head.”

The judge asked Trump’s lawyers privately to talk to their client, saying Trump’s actions might intimidate the witness, Daniels.

“You need to speak to him,” the judge said. “I won’t tolerate that.”

The motive for the payoff is a point of contention.

Prosecutors asked Daniels about a 2018 statement in which she denied the sexual encounter. Daniels said she had not wanted to sign it and that it was not true.

Defense lawyers, capitalizing on what they seem to perceive as Daniels’ shortcomings as a witness, came out blazing. One of them, Susan Necheles, implied in her cross-examination that Daniels was trying to “extort money” from Trump.

Daniels replied sharply, “False.”

Daniels’ story bothers Trump.

Before court even started Tuesday morning, Trump telegraphed his frustration with Daniels in an angry post on Truth Social, saying he had just learned about a coming witness and that his lawyers had “no time” to prepare. The post was removed shortly thereafter, possibly because of concerns over violating the gag order.

Trump, who has spent much of the trial with his eyes closed, remained attentive for part of the day, often with a sour expression on his face. He continually whispered to his lawyers and at one point mouthed an expletive.

But by the afternoon, he had returned to his habit of closing his eyes, even during a combative cross-examination.

Daniels’ credibility is a hurdle for prosecutors.

Daniels’ motivations are a major focus of the defense. In a sharp moment, Necheles confronted her about what Necheles described as her hatred of the former president and asked whether she wanted him to go to jail. Daniels responded, “I want him to be held accountable.”

Necheles also asked Daniels about making money by claiming to have had sex with Trump. Daniels responded: “I’ve been making money by telling my story,” and later added, “It has also cost me a lot of money.”

Trump’s words haunt him.

Prosecutors have tried several times to use Trump’s prior statements against him.

Before Daniels testified Tuesday, a witness read aloud passages from books by Trump. Some spoke to his frugality.

Others spoke to his penchant for revenge.

“For many years I’ve said that if someone screws you, screw them back,” the witness read. The passage continued: “When somebody hurts you, just go after them as viciously and as violently as you can.”

Not long after, one of his enemies — Daniels — took the stand. Her cross-examination resumes Thursday.

Published 08 May 2024, 03:23 IST

Deccan Herald is on WhatsApp Channels | Join now for Breaking News & Editor's Picks

Follow us on :

Follow Us