Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Stormy Daniels Testifies in Trump Hush Money Trial

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Stormy Daniels
File Picture: Stormy Daniels (AP Photo file)

Amidst a tense courtroom atmosphere with former President Donald Trump mere feet away, Stormy Daniels took the stand on Tuesday in the trial concerning hush money allegedly paid to her by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen. Daniels, a porn actor, provided a detailed and sometimes graphic account of a sexual encounter she claims to have had with Trump in 2006, an incident Trump has consistently denied.

Jurors were reportedly captivated as Daniels recounted the encounter, which she says led to a payment a decade later to keep silent during Trump’s presidential campaign. Trump, visibly stoic, occasionally whispered to his lawyers and shook his head during Daniels’ testimony.

Daniels testified that she first met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in July 2006. Describing their first meeting as a “very brief encounter” on a golf course, Daniels said she was 27 and remembered Trump being as old as her father — around 60.

The jury — which appeared focused intently on Daniels and her testimony — was shown a picture of them together from that trip.

Daniels said that they later ran into each other at the club and that a man she later learned was Trump’s bodyguard told her Trump wanted to have dinner with her. She said she replied, “No, with an expletive in front.”

She did, however, get the bodyguard’s number, and she said that later that day her publicist convinced her she should accept the invitation, telling her: “It’ll make a great story. He’s a business guy. Like, what could possibly go wrong?”

She said she went up to Trump’s penthouse hotel suite and was told they’d be going to dinner at one of the restaurants downstairs. When she entered the room, which she described as “three times the size of my apartment,” he was wearing “silk or satin” pajamas, she said. She said she quipped, “Does Hugh Hefner know you stole his pajamas?” and asked him to change, which he did.

They then sat at a dining table in the suite, where, she said, Trump asked her numerous questions about her adult film writing and directing. He then asked her about sexually transmitted diseases, and she said she was tested constantly and “I’ve never had a bad test.”

She said that she grew frustrated with him because he kept cutting off her answers and that when he pulled out a magazine with him on the cover, she said, “Someone should spank you with that.” She said she then rolled it up and “swatted” him with it. While jurors mostly appeared poker-faced through her testimony, one began rubbing her face and appeared to be holding back laughter.

After that, she said, Trump was “much more polite” and suggested she should come on his TV show, “The Apprentice.” Daniels testified that “he said, ‘You remind me of my daughter,'” and that appearing on the show would demonstrate she shouldn’t be underestimated.

In all, they chatted for about two hours, Daniels said. She said that she went to the bathroom and that when she walked out, Trump was lying on the bed “in boxer shorts and T-shirt.” She said she was “startled, like a jump scare. Wasn’t expecting someone to be there, especially minus a lot of clothing.”

She said Trump told her, “I thought you were serious about what you wanted.” She said she felt “there was an imbalance of power, for sure. He was bigger and blocking the way, but I was not threatened either verbally or physically.” Asked in court whether she ended up having sex with him on the bed, she said, “Yes.”

She described the sex as brief and said Trump told her “it was great. Let’s get together again, honey bunch.” She said he hadn’t used a condom and hadn’t expressed any concern about his wife’s finding out what had happened. She said he also didn’t give her his phone number.

Former President Donald Trump returns to the courtroom Monday in New York City.Julia Nikhinson / Pool via Getty Images

Trump’s bodyguard reached out to her the next day to invite her to meet Trump at a bar in her hotel, she said. When she got there, she said, he was with then-Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Trump left about 10 minutes later but continued to call her well after the encounter, she said, “with an update — or a non-update if he didn’t have one — for ‘Apprentice.’”

“He always called me honey bunch,” she said.

She said they saw each other again in January 2007, when he invited her to the launch of his Trump vodka brand. While she was there, she said, he introduced her to his friend “Karen,” who she later learned was Karen McDougal, a former Playboy model who said she was having a monthslong affair with Trump during that period. Former National Enquirer publisher David Pecker testified earlier in the trial that he paid McDougal $150,000 to keep her quiet about the claim during the 2016 presidential campaign. Trump has denied both Daniels’ and McDougal’s claims.

Daniels said Trump also invited her to Trump Tower around that time and assured her, “I’m still working on the ‘Apprentice’ thing.”

She said they last saw each other in the summer of 2007, when he invited her to see him at a bungalow he was staying at in Los Angeles. She said that he “kept trying to make sexual advances” but that she shot him down. “I told him I was on my period,” she said. He said he later called her and told her he hadn’t been able to get her on his show.

Payments made to Daniels by Trump’s then-lawyer Michael Cohen at the end of the 2016 campaign are at the heart of the case, the first criminal trial of a former president. Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 in return for her keeping quiet about her claims of a sexual encounter with Trump.

Daniels said Tuesday that Gina Rodriguez, her manager, spoke to her about going public with her story for money in 2015 after Trump announced he was running for president. Rodriguez didn’t have much success shopping the story until after the release in October 2016 of the “Access Hollywood” tape, in which Trump was recorded in 2005 bragging that he could grope women without their consent.

She said that Rodriguez then told her that Trump and Cohen were “interested in paying” for the story and that she agreed, because it meant the story — which her husband didn’t know about — wouldn’t become public. “I didn’t care about the amounts. It was just, ‘Get it done,'” she said.

Prosecutors say Trump reimbursed Cohen the money in payments that were falsely described as legal expenses. They have charged him with 34 counts of falsifying business records. Trump has pleaded not guilty.

Daniels’ deal with Cohen was revealed in a January 2018 story in The Wall Street Journal. Asked about the impact the story had on her life, Daniels said, “Chaos.”

“My husband asking questions, my friends asking questions,” she said, with people showing up on her front lawn.

She said that Cohen started to talk about her allegations publicly but that she couldn’t because of the NDA and the $1 million penalty it included if she violated it. She said she later hired lawyer Michael Avenatti “so that I could stand up for myself.”

He helped her get out of the NDA but also filed an unsuccessful defamation suit against Trump on her behalf and against her wishes, she said. Daniels lost the case and was ordered to pay Trump’s legal fees. She eventually fired Avenatti, who was convicted of several crimes, including stealing from Daniels.

The highly anticipated testimony unfolded in a trial marked by tabloid-esque elements and meticulous legal proceedings. Daniels’ presence, as a porn actor alleging intimacy with a former U.S. president, added to the trial’s historic significance, steeped in allegations of sex, payoffs, and cover-ups, all amidst Trump’s renewed bid for the White House.

Despite objections from defense lawyers, Daniels delved into salacious details of the encounter, prompting calls for a mistrial on grounds of prejudice and irrelevance. However, the judge dismissed the request, advising defense lawyers to voice objections during testimony. Later, Trump’s legal team sought to portray Daniels as motivated by personal animus and financial gain, questioning her credibility during cross-examination.

The heart of the case revolves around payments made to Daniels by Cohen during the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Daniels asserts that Cohen paid her $130,000 to conceal the encounter, a claim Trump staunchly denies. Prosecutors allege that Trump reimbursed Cohen for the payment, leading to charges against Trump for falsifying business records.

Trump’s reaction to Daniels’ testimony prompted the judge to intervene, citing potential witness intimidation. Trump’s attorney assured the court that Trump’s behavior would be addressed.

Daniels’ testimony, coupled with earlier accounts, offers a glimpse into the intricate web of events surrounding the alleged payment and subsequent fallout. As the trial progresses, all eyes remain on the unfolding drama, with Daniels slated to return to the witness stand Thursday.

The trial marks a pivotal moment in legal history, as the first criminal case against a former U.S. president reaches a jury. With Daniels’ testimony shaping the narrative, the trial underscores the intersection of power, politics, and personal conduct, casting a shadow over Trump’s political aspirations.

3 COMMENTS

  1. They are doing everything possible to stop the second coming of Trump…

    They doing everything possible to stop the second coming of Jacob Zuma…..

    They are doing everything possible to stop the second coming of ECL……..

    2
    1

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