NATIONAL NEWS

Here is what Stormy Daniels testified happened between her and Donald Trump

May 7, 2024, 9:58 AM | Updated: 5:00 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — Porn actor Stormy Daniels took the witness stand Tuesday in the hush money case against Donald Trump, who looked on as she detailed their alleged sexual encounter and the payment she got to keep it quiet.

Prosecutors allege Trump paid Daniels to keep quiet about the claims as he ran for president in 2016. Her testimony aired them very publicly as the presumptive Republican presidential nominee seeks to win the White House again.

Trump denies having sex with Daniels, and his lawyers unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial midway through her testimony.

It’s the biggest spectacle yet in the first criminal trial of a former American president, now in its third week of testimony in Manhattan.

Here are some takeaways from Daniels’ testimony:

WHO IS STORMY DANIELS?

The case centers on a $130,000 payment to Daniels from Trump’s then-lawyer, Michael Cohen, in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 campaign. Prosecutors say it was part of a scheme to illegally influence the campaign by burying negative stories about him.

His lawyers have sought to show that Trump was trying to protect his reputation and family — not his campaign — by shielding them from embarrassing stories about his personal life.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, told jurors that she started exotic dancing in high school and appearing in adult films at age 23, eventually moving on to direct more than 150 films and winning a roster of porn industry awards.

MEETING TRUMP

Daniels testified she first met and chatted with Trump at a 2006 Lake Tahoe celebrity golf outing where her studio was a sponsor.

He referred to her as “the smart one” and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner, she said. Daniels testified that she accepted Trump’s invitation because she wanted to avoid dinner with her co-workers and thought it might help her career. Trump had his bodyguard get her number, she said.

When they met up later in his penthouse, she appreciated that he seemed interested in the business aspects of the industry rather than the “sexy stuff.” He also suggested putting her on his TV show, “The Apprentice,” a possibility she hoped could help establish her as a writer and director.

She left to use the bathroom and was startled to find Trump in his underwear when she returned, she said. She didn’t feel physically or verbally threatened but realized that he was “bigger and blocking the way,” she testified.

“The next thing I know was: I was on the bed,” and they were having sex, Daniels recalled. The encounter was brief but left her “shaking,” she said. “I just wanted to leave,” she testified.

PAYMENTS FOR SILENCE

Daniels was asked if Trump ever told her to keep things between them confidential and said, “Absolutely not.” She said she learned in 2011 that a magazine had learned the story of their encounter and she agreed to do an interview for $15,000 to make money and “control the narrative.” The story never ran.

In 2016, when Trump was running for president, Daniels said she authorized her manager to shop the story around but did not initially receive interest from news outlets. She said that changed in October with the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump bragged about grabbing women sexually without asking permission. She said she learned that Cohen wanted to buy her silence.

MISTRIAL PUSH

Midway through her testimony, Trump’s lawyers moved for a mistrial.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche argued that Daniels’ testimony about the alleged encounter and other meetings with him had “nothing to do with this case,” and would unfairly prejudice the jury.

The judge rejected it, and he faulted defense attorneys for not raising more of their objections while she was testifying.

Before Daniels took the stand, Trump’s lawyers had tried to stop her from testifying about the encounter’s details, saying it was irrelevant in “a case about books and records.”

Prosecutors countered that Daniels’ testimony gets at what Trump was trying to hide and they were “very mindful” not to draw too much graphic detail. Before Daniels took the stand, they told the judge the testimony would be “really basic,” and would not “involve any details of genitalia.”

While the judge didn’t side with Trump’s lawyers, he acknowledged that some details were excessive. The objections could potentially be used by Trump’s lawyers if he is convicted and they file an appeal.

CROSS-EXAMINATION

Trump’s lawyers tried to attack Daniels’ credibility, suggesting she was motivated by money and that her account has shifted over the years.

“Am I correct that you hate President Trump?” Defense lawyer Susan Necheles asked Daniels at one point. Daniels acknowledged she did.

“And you want him to go to jail?” the lawyer asked.

“I want him to be held accountable,” Daniels said. Pressed again whether that meant going to jail, she said, “If he’s convicted.”

The defense pressed Daniels on the fact that she owes Trump hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees stemming from an unsuccessful defamation lawsuit and on a 2022 tweet in which she said she “will go to jail before I pay a penny.” Daniels dug in at times in the face of pointed questions, forcefully denying the idea that she had tried to extort Trump.

TRUMP IN COURT

Trump whispered frequently to his attorney during Daniels’ testimony, and his expression seemed to be pained at one point as she recounted details about the dinner she says they shared. He shook his head and appeared to say something under his breath as Daniels testified that Trump told her he didn’t sleep in the same room as his wife.

At one point, the judge told defense lawyers during a sidebar conversation — out of earshot of the jury and the public — that he could hear Trump “cursing audibly” and see him shaking his head, according to a transcript of the proceedings.

“I am speaking to you here at the bench because I don’t want to embarrass him,” Judge Juan Merchan told Blanche, Trump’s lawyer. Blanche assured the judge he would talk to his client.

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

On the way out of the courthouse, Trump called it “a very revealing day.” He didn’t address Daniels’ testimony explicitly but claimed the prosecutors’ case was “totally falling apart.”

A JARRING SPLIT SCREEN

Trump’s appearance in court Tuesday, like all other days he’s stuck in the courtroom, means he can’t be out on the campaign trail as he runs for president a third time. It’s a frequent source of his complaints, but Daniels’ testimony in particular might underscore how much of a distraction the trial is from the business of running for president.

While Trump was stuck in a Manhattan courthouse away from voters and unable to speak for much of the day, his rival, Democratic President Joe Biden, was attending a Holocaust remembrance ceremony and condemning antisemitism.

It’s an issue Trump has sought to use against Biden in the campaign by seizing on the protests at college campuses over the Israel-Hamas war.

____

Whitehurst reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Michael Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz and Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this story.

National News

FILE - Rudy Giuliani speaks during a news conference outside federal court in Washington, Dec. 15, ...

Associated Press

Rudy Giuliani’s bankruptcy case was thrown out. Here’s some key things to know

NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge threw out the bankruptcy case of former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani on Friday. He cited repeated “uncooperative conduct,” including a failure to comply with court orders and disclose sources of income. While Giuliani’s creditors can now pursue other legal remedies, such as seizing his apartments and other […]

1 hour ago

FILE- This undated photo provided by the University of Kansas shows researcher Feng “Franklin” ...

Associated Press

Court voids last conviction of Kansas researcher in case that started as Chinese espionage probe

A federal appeals court has reversed the conviction of a researcher who was accused of hiding work he did in China while employed at the University of Kansas. Feng “Franklin” Tao was convicted in April 2022 of three counts of wire fraud and one count of making a materially false statement. U.S. District Judge Julie […]

1 hour ago

This photo provided by the International Fund for Animal Welfare shows several stranded dolphins on...

Associated Press

Dolphin mass stranding on Cape Cod found to be the largest in US history

Rescuers who helped free more than a hundred dolphins from the Cape Cod shoreline say they’ve confirmed that the mass stranding that began June 28 was the largest involving dolphins in U.S. history. There were two prior events on record in Hawaii and the Florida Keys where dolphin species were observed circling in shallow water, […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

A popular tour guide’s death leads to more scrutiny of border issues

Kristie Thibodeaux’s gunfire death made headlines first because it happened in the French Quarter — New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood and a place where residents of historic homes and owners of tourist-dependent restaurants and clubs have long worried about recurring violent crime. Then came the news that one of three suspects in the armed robbery and […]

2 hours ago

FILE -FILE - A Delta Air Lines jetliner is shown at Denver International Airport in Denver, June 26...

Associated Press

Delta Air Lines adopts new rules for flight attendant uniforms after Palestinian pin flap

ATLANTA (AP) — Delta Air Lines is changing its employee uniform policy following a turbulent ride through a social media storm started by a passenger’s outrage over two flight attendants photographed wearing Palestinian pins. The uproar over the July 10 post, which described the Palestinian pins as “Hamas badges,” led Delta to ban its employees […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Man accused of holding girlfriend captive in Minnesota college dorm room reaches plea deal

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — A man who was accused of holding his girlfriend captive in her dorm room at a Minnesota college for three days while raping, beating and waterboarding her has reached a plea deal that calls for a sentence of up to 7 1/2 years. Keanu Avery Labatte, 20, of Granite Falls, […]

4 hours ago

Here is what Stormy Daniels testified happened between her and Donald Trump