NATIONAL NEWS

The Latest | Judge denies defense’s 2nd request for mistrial in Trump’s hush money case

May 9, 2024, 3:18 AM | Updated: 3:04 pm

NEW YORK (AP) — The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money case denied a second request from defense attorneys to declare a mistrial over porn actor Stormy Daniels’ testimony, which concluded Thursday.

Judge Juan M. Merchan, echoing his denial Tuesday of the defense’s initial mistrial motion, said Trump’s lawyers had ample opportunities to object to questions that elicited what they said were damaging details about the alleged sexual encounter between the former president and Daniels.

Daniels spent roughly 7 1/2 hours on the stand over two days. The porn actor recounted, among other things, the alleged 2006 sexual encounter with the former president that she was eventually paid to keep quiet about during the 2016 presidential election.

The former president’s attorneys aggressively sought to poke holes in Daniels’ credibility during cross-examination accusing her of trying to extort Trump, rehearsing her testimony and changing her story over the years — all things she forcefully denied.

Trump denies the two ever had sex.

Defense attorneys asked New York’s mid-level appeals court on Wednesday to expedite a decision on Trump’s gag order appeal.

The court did not take immediate action but set deadlines for court filings in the next two weeks.

Prosecutors say Trump and two of his associates orchestrated a scheme to influence the 2016 election by purchasing and then burying stories that might damage his campaign.

Daniels’ testimony is a build-up to the prosecution’s star witness Michael Cohen, who arranged the $130,000 payment to Daniels and later went to prison for orchestrating the payments and other charges.

Trump is accused of falsifying internal business records to cover up the hush money payments and instead recording them as legal expenses. He has pleaded not guilty.

The case is the first-ever criminal trial of a former U.S. president and the first of four prosecutions of Trump to reach a jury.

Currently:

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

— Inside the courtroom where Trump was forced to listen to Stormy Daniels

— Hush money, catch and kill and more: Terms to know in Trump trial

— Key players: Who’s who at Donald Trump’s hush money criminal trial

— The hush money case is just one of Trump’s legal cases. See the others here

Here’s the latest:

TRUMP LEAVES COURT, CALLS RULING ‘A DISGRACE’

Speaking briefly to reporters outside the courtroom late Thursday afternoon, Donald Trump railed against Judge Juan M. Merchan, who had just denied his lawyers’ requests to modify the gag order so he could respond to Stormy Daniels’ testimony, and to declare a mistrial based on what she said.

“This judge, what he did, and what his ruling was, is a disgrace,” Trump said. “Everybody saw what happened today.”

Court will resume on Friday morning.

JUDGE DENIES SECOND REQUEST FOR MISTRIAL

The judge in Donald Trump’s hush money case on Thursday denied another request from defense lawyers for a mistrial over Stormy Daniels’ testimony.

Judge Juan M. Merchan, echoing his denial Tuesday of the defense’s initial mistrial motion, said Trump’s lawyers had ample opportunities to object to questions that elicited what they said were damaging details about the alleged sexual encounter between the former president and Daniels.

“There were many times, not once or twice, but many times when Ms. Necheles could’ve objected but didn’t,” Merchan said.

In particular, the judge said, the defense should’ve objected to prosecutor Susan Hoffinger’s question about whether Trump used a condom, which led to Daniels’ response that he hadn’t.

“I agree. That should never have come out. That question should never have been asked and that answer should never have been given,” Merchan said. “For the life of me, I don’t know why Ms. Necheles didn’t object.”

PROSECUTION SAYS CLAIM DANIELS CHANGED HER STORY IS ‘EXTRAORDINARILY UNTRUE’

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass countered a claim by Donald Trump’s defense attorneys that Stormy Daniels changed her story as “extraordinarily untrue,” though there may be details “said in one forum and not another.” And, he said, the defense lawyers’ claim that they couldn’t foresee what prosecutors would ask and what Daniels would answer “is just nonsense.”

Steinglass said on Thursday that prosecutors have always contended that the details of the alleged 2006 encounter — a two-hour conversation Daniels said she had with Trump in his hotel suite — corroborate her account that they had sex and, therefore, adds to Trump’s motivation to silence her.

“If they want to offer testimony that the sex never happened, that’s their prerogative,” Steinglass said.

Steinglass argued the defense was trying to discredit Daniels’ allegations while precluding prosecutors from corroborating the details of the claim.

“They’re basically trying to have their cake and eat it too,” he said in pushing back against the defense’s request for a mistrial.

DEFENSE CALLS DANIELS’ TESTIMONY ‘SO PREJUDICIAL’

Defense attorneys in Donald Trump’s hush money trial on Thursday said Stormy Daniels’ testimony went far afield of rules established to protect Trump from being prejudiced by tawdry details, and didn’t match the account that was offered up to Cohen when he decided to pay her $130,000 for the rights to her story.

“That is a power description. That is an extremely prejudicial statement by a witness and there’s no evidence that was said to AMI or Mr. Cohen, no evidence it had anything to do with the motive to enter into that NDA,” Todd Blanche said, arguing in favor of a mistrial.

“That is so prejudicial and so incredible for a jury to hear,” Blanche added, blaming prosecutors for asking questions that elicited intimate details of the alleged sexual encounter, including asking Daniels about whether Trump had used a condom.

“It’s a dog whistle for rape,” Blanche concluded.

IN BID FOR MISTRIAL, TRUMP’S LAWYERS ARGUE DANIELS’ STORY IS INCONSISTENT

In renewing their bid for a mistrial in Donald Trump’s hush money case, Trump’s lawyers leaned on what they say are discrepancies between Stormy Daniels’ testimony and her previous tellings of the alleged sexual encounter, which Trump denies ever happened.

Under defense questioning earlier, Daniels insisted that while some reports on what she said had been incomplete, she hadn’t changed her story or fabricated it.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche also alleged that prosecutors elicited a level of detail from Daniels that went far beyond what was agreed to.

“You have jurors who are now hearing about an imbalance of power between a man and a woman, none of that is information that goes to motive in this case,” Blanche said, adding: “We didn’t know these questions were coming. We didn’t know.”

Blanche further took issue with Daniels’ testimony about the visceral reaction she had when she says she saw Trump sitting on the bed of his hotel suite stripped down to his boxers and T-shirt. Daniels testified that she felt like the room was spinning, blood rushing from her hands and feet, and feeling like she’d blacked out.

Even as she described the power dynamic, though, Daniels told attorneys the sex was consensual.

JUDGE REJECTS REQUEST TO ALTER GAG ORDER

Judge Juan M. Merchan on Thursday rejected the defense’s request to modify the existing gag order to allow Donald Trump to publicly respond to Stormy Daniels’ testimony.

“My concern is not just with protecting Ms. Daniels, or a witness who has already testified. My concern is with protecting the integrity of these proceedings as a whole,” Merchan said.

As the judge described his “very threatening attacks” on potential witnesses, Trump sat forward in his chair, hands clasped in front of him. Once the order was read, Trump leaned back, appearing to exhale.

The gag order bars the former president from speaking publicly about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the hush money case.

PROSECUTION PUSHES BACK ON DEFENSE REQUEST FOR CHANGES TO GAG ORDER

The prosecution in Donald Trump’s hush money case pushed back Thursday on a defense request for changes to the gag order that bars the former president from speaking publicly about jurors, witnesses and some others connected to the case.

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy responded that the gag order shouldn’t be altered to allow comments about Stormy Daniels because those remarks could have a chilling effect on other witnesses. He added that he’s spoken with one future witness who is worried about the consequences of taking the stand.

Trump, Conroy said, goes after “anyone he deems worthy of his venom. He does it selfishly with no concern for the safety of the people he’s attacking.”

Conroy said he’d had a conversation Wednesday night with a witness whose role was simply to authenticate some records and who was worried about the consequences of testifying.

“Modifying this gag order now would signal to future witnesses that they could be at risk,” Conroy argued.

TRUMP’S LAWYERS ASK JUDGE TO LET HIM PUBLICLY RESPOND TO DANIELS’ TESTIMONY

Donald Trump’s attorneys have asked Judge Juan M. Merchan to alter his gag order so that the former president can “respond publicly to what happened in court over the last day and a half” with Stormy Daniels’ testimony.

Defense lawyer Todd Blanche was concerned that Trump is being harmed by unchecked reporting on various claims she made about him on the witness stand.

“He needs an opportunity to respond to the American people and the reasons for the gag order as it relates to Ms. Daniels is over. She’s no longer a witness,” Blanche said.

Blanche contends “this isn’t just the same story that has been going around for the last couple years, it’s much different.”

Prosecutor Christopher Conroy, meanwhile, accused Trump’s defense team of living in an “alternate reality” and said that the gag order shouldn’t be altered to allow comments about Daniels because those remarks could have a chilling effect on other.

TESTIMONY CONCLUDES FOR THE DAY AS DEFENSE RENEWS MISTRIAL MOTION

Testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money case has concluded for the day.

Madeleine Westerhout’s testimony will continue on Friday. The judge is now sending the jury home so that he can attend to several issues the defense plans to raise, including renewing its motion for a mistrial following Stormy Daniels’ testimony.

FORMER SECRETARY ON WHY SHE WAS FIRED FROM THE WHITE HOUSE

Madeleine Westerhout wiped tears from her eyes and asked for a moment as prosecutors turned to her exit from the White House during her testimony on Thursday.

She said she was fired after divulging private details about the job during a dinner with reporters that she believed was “off the record.”

“I am very regretful of my youthful indiscretion,” she said. Donald Trump at the time said she was dismissed for saying things about his children.

As she spoke in court, Trump shook his head twice from the defense table.

Westerhout went on to publish a book, “Off the Record,” about her time in the White House, in order to “to share with the American people the man that I got to know,” she testified. “I don’t think he’s treated fairly and I wanted to tell that story” she added.

STACKS OF CHECKS WERE SENT TO WHITE HOUSE FOR TRUMP TO SIGN

Earlier Thursday, Trump Organization executive assistant Rebecca Manochio testified about her practice of sending batches of unsigned checks to the White House via FedEx for Donald Trump to sign from his personal account.

Westerhout provided the White House perspective on that arrangement, recounting how Trump would receive packages about twice a month — some containing one check and others with a stack about a half-inch thick. The checks were often attached to invoices stating what the payment was for.

After signing the checks, Westerhout said Trump would give them back to her and she’d sent them back to the Trump Organization using a prelabeled FedEx envelope.

At times, Westerhout said Trump would sometimes pull aside a check and ask for more information before signing. In those instances, she said she remembered Trump calling the company’s then-chief finance chief “Allen Weisselberg or someone else in the Trump Organization to ask for clarification.”

Manochio had testified earlier that, to her knowledge, Trump didn’t speak to Weisselberg once he became president.

JURORS SEE TRUMP CONTACT LIST, INCLUDING BILL O’REILLY, TOM BRADY AND OTHERS

Jurors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial got a look at a redacted contact list that Trump’s assistant at his company sent to Madeleine Westerhout, representing people he spoke to frequently or might want to.

It’s a who’s who of big names, including former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, tennis player Serena Williams, casino mogul Steve Wynn, football legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick, and “The Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett.

Their contact details are redacted.

Closer to home, the list included the names of some of Trump’s family members, as well as trial figures David Pecker, Michael Cohen and Allen Weisselberg.

Another name on the list, Fox News’ Jeanine Pirro, was in attendance at the trial earlier Thursday, watching Stormy Daniels’ testimony from an overflow room down the hall.

EX-DIRECTOR OF OVAL OFFICE OPERATIONS TAKES THE STAND

Prosecutors in Donald Trump’s hush money trial called Madeleine Westerhout — Trump’s personal secretary from 2017 to 2019 and the former director of Oval Office Operations for the Trump White House from February to August 2019 — to the stand Thursday afternoon.

Before going to the White House, Westerhout worked for the Republican National Committee. She was there when Trump’s infamous “Access Hollywood” tape was made public weeks before the 2016 election.

She recalled, in testimony, the tape “rattling RNC leadership” and that “there were conversations about how it would be possible to replace him as the candidate if it came to that.”

After Trump won the 2016 election, Westerhout and others from the RNC began working frequently in Trump Tower to aid the transition. And late that year, she said, her boss asked whether she had any interest in working right outside the Oval Office.

“I said, ‘Yes, I would. That sounds like a really cool job,’” she recalled with a smile.

MANOCHIO CONCLUDES TESTIMONY

Following roughly four minutes of cross-examination after a lunch break Thursday afternoon, Rebecca Manochio finished giving testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial.

Manochio, a junior bookkeeper at the Trump Organization at the time Donald Trump was president, was responsible for sending unsigned checks for him to sign at the White House for his personal expenses.

Manochio confirmed previous testimony that Trump was the only person authorized to sign checks for his personal account and that he was not involved in signing any checks for his business because those assets had been put into a revocable trust while he was president. His son Donald Trump Jr. and Allen Weisselberg, then-Trump Organization chief financial officer, had authority to sign checks for the business.

Manochio testified that Trump and Weisselberg would speak at least once a day before Trump embarked on his run for president. After Trump started campaigning and was out of the office more often, the frequency of their contacts decreased, Manochio said. And, to her knowledge, she testified, Trump and Weisselberg didn’t speak at all after Trump became president.

DEFENSE TO RENEW CALL FOR A MISTRIAL

Before breaking for lunch, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche told Judge Juan M. Merchan that the defense plans to renew its call for a mistrial in the hush money case based on Stormy Daniels’ testimony.

Blanche also said they will seek to prevent former Playboy model Karen McDougal from testifying and that they will make further arguments about the gag order that bars Donald Trump from speaking publicly about jurors, witnesses and others connected to the case.

Merchan said he would send the jury home at 4 p.m. and subsequently take up the defense’s arguments.

DANIELS CONCLUDES TESTIMONY

Stormy Daniels concluded her testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial midday Thursday following the conclusion of cross-examination by the defense and a brief round of redirect questioning from prosecutors.

She has completed her testimony, given over two days in Trump’s criminal trial.

As Daniels walked off the stand and out of the courtroom, Trump turned his gaze away from her, appearing to look at a screen in front of him.

DANIELS ACKNOW
LEDGES SHE NEVER SPOKE TO TRUMP ABOUT THE HUSH MONEY PAYMENT

Stormy Daniels testified Thursday that she never spoke with Donald Trump about the $130,000 hush money payment she received from Michael Cohen and had no knowledge of whether Trump was aware of or involved in the transaction.

“You have no personal knowledge about his involvement in that transaction or what he did or didn’t do,” Trump lawyer Susan Necheles asked.

“Not directly, no,” Daniels responded.

Upon further questioning, Daniels noted that she didn’t negotiate directly with Cohen, either, but that her lawyer at the time, Keith Davidson did.

Necheles used the questions in the final moments of her cross-examination to underscore that Daniels does not know of any of the allegations underlying Trump’s charges in the case, that he falsified his company’s records to hide the true nature of reimbursement payments to Cohen.

Necheles asked Daniels if she was aware of what Trump had been indicted for, producing an uncomfortable answer that the lawyer wanted stricken from the record. Her answer: “There’s a lot of indictments.”

Daniels went on to say that she knew the charges involved business records, but when asked if she knew anything about Trump’s business records, she acknowledged: “I know nothing about his business records. No. Why would I?”

JURORS APPEAR RIVETED BY THE BACK-AND-FORTH OF CROSS-EXAMINATION

Amid the tension between Stormy Daniels and defense lawyer Susan Necheles during cross-examination in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, the courtroom itself was relatively calm.

There were no audible reactions from the gallery — mostly reporters with one row of public observers — when testimony grew particularly tense Thursday morning. If anything, the drama unfolded somewhat like a Broadway show with Necheles and Daniels playing off each other.

Many jurors viewed the back and forth the way they might watch a tennis match: swiveling their heads between the lawyers’ lectern and the witness box with each question and answer. Some jurors scribbled notes, others leaned back in their chairs.

Trump watched intently.

The rest of the audience watched wide-eyed but respectful of the court’s decorum.

DANIELS INSISTS HER STORY HAS NOT CHANGED

Before a morning break in Donald Trump’s hush money trial, Stormy Daniels pushed back on suggestions by the defense that her story about their alleged sexual encounter has changed over time.

Daniels testified earlier this week that while she wasn’t physically menaced, she felt a “power imbalance” as Trump, in his hotel bedroom, stood between her and the door and propositioned her.

As for whether she felt compelled to have sex with him, she reiterated Thursday that he didn’t drug her or physically threaten her.

But, she said, “My own insecurities, in that moment, kept me from saying no.”

Trump denies any sexual encounter happened.

Several times, defense lawyer Susan Necheles accused Daniels of altering the details of her story over time, saying at one point: “Your story has completely changed.”

Daniels insisted it has not. “You’re trying to make me say that it changed, but it hasn’t changed at all.”

NECHELES HOM
ES IN ON DANIELS’ CAREER IN PORNOGRAPHY

Donald Trump’s defense attorney zeroed in on Stormy Daniels’ career in adult films to suggest that her story about being shocked and frightened by Trump’s alleged sexual advances is not believable.

“You’ve acted and had sex in over 200 porn movies, right?” asked Necheles. “And there are naked men and women having sex, including yourself, in those movies?”

Necheles continued: “But according to you, seeing a man sitting on a bed in a T-shirt and boxers was so upsetting that you got lightheaded, the blood left your hands and feet and you felt like you were going to faint.”

Daniels replied that the experience with Trump was different from porn for several reasons — including the fact that Trump was more than twice her age, larger than her and that she was not expecting to find him undressed when she emerged from the bathroom.

“I came out of a bathroom seeing an older man that I wasn’t expecting to be there,” she said.

TRUMP’S LAWYER TRIES TO POKE HOLES IN DANIELS’ TESTIMONY

Defense lawyer Susan Necheles tried to show during cross-examination on Thursday that details from Stormy Daniels’ story of meeting Donald Trump in 2006 have changed over time, pointing to a 2011 interview in which she said the two talked “before, during and after” dinner in his hotel room, though she testified earlier this week that they never got any food.

Daniels rebuffed the idea that there was a discrepancy: saying that what she meant was that they talked during dinnertime but that she never said they actually got food, to her frustration, as she’s “very food-motivated.”

“I’ve maintained that in every interview — that we never actually ate,” she said during an extended exchange on the dinner details, and explained: “Having dinner, at least from where I’m from, doesn’t necessarily mean you have to put food in your mouth. You’re going to someone’s house for dinner, it’s dinnertime.”

“The details of your story keep changing, right?” Necheles asked at one point.

“No,” Daniels said.

DANIELS ADDR
ESSES PARANORMAL EXPERIENCES AND MORE

In one of the hush money trial’s odder moments, Stormy Daniels was pressed about her experience dealing with a ghost — which may have just been a marsupial.

Asked by Trump lawyer Susan Necheles about her claim that she lived in a New Orleans home that was “haunted and the spirits attacked you,” Daniels launched into an explanation of her possible encounter.

“The house had some very unexplained activity. We brought in experts, people to measure the electromagnetic fields, religious experts, scientists,” she said. “A lot of the activity was completely debunked as a giant possum that was under the house.”

The line of questioning appeared aimed at undermining Daniels’ credibility while giving Necheles a chance to highlight that Daniels is working on a paranormal investigation show called Spooky Babes.

Necheles then turned pointedly to Daniels’ career, asking: “You have a lot of experience in making phony stories about sex appear real?”

“The sex in those films is real, just like the sex in that room,” Daniels replied. “The character themes might be different, but the sex is very real. That’s why it’s pornography, not a B movie.”

Regarding her account of having a sexual encounter with Trump — a claim he denies — Daniels said: “If that story was not true I would’ve written it to be a lot better.”

“Because you’re a good story writer, right?” Necheles responded.

NECHELES HIGHLIGHTS DANIELS’ TRUMP-RELATED MERCHANDISE

Defense lawyer Susan Necheles pressed Stormy Daniels on her social media marketing of merchandise tied to her public persona as a Trump antagonist.

Asked about an “in celebration of new indictments” promotion from last year that offered a gift for new orders, Necheles asked whether the performer wasn’t using the circumstances to flog products.

“Not unlike Mr. Trump,” Daniels calmly retorted.

Necheles then suggested Daniels was “bragging” by offering a “Stormy Saint of Indictments” candle.

“No, I’m not bragging. I think it’s funny that a store made that for me to sell,” Daniels said.

And no, she corrected Necheles, she’s not making $40 per candle, but rather about $7.

DANIELS TO DEFENSE LAWYER: ‘YOU’RE PUTTING WORDS IN MY MOUTH’

Several times on Thursday, Stormy Daniels has taken issue with Trump lawyer Susan Necheles’ questioning.

Amid questions about the financial arrangements for her documentary, Daniels accused Necheles of “trying to trick me into saying something that’s not entirely true.”

At another point, Daniels demanded the defense lawyer back up her claim about something she claimed Daniels had said regarding Donald Trump’s arrest.

“Show me where I said I’d be instrumental in putting President Trump in jail,” the witness said, steady and unflustered.

After Necheles showed Daniels a social media post she’d made that did not reflect those precise words, Daniels replied: “I don’t see the ‘instrumental’ or ‘jail.’ You’re putting words in my mouth.”

Trump spent much of the first hour of testimony leaning back in his seat and staring straight ahead, nodding at times as his attorney called jurors’ attention to social media posts by Daniels insulting him.

It was a far cry from the visible repulsion he displayed during her initial testimony to prosecutors.

DANIELS UNDERSCORES COMPENSATION SHE HAS AND HAS NOT RECEIVED

During cross-examination Thursday morning, porn actor Stormy Daniels underscored several times that she received no compensation for a “60 Minutes” interview she gave in 2018, relaying her alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump. But Susan Necheles, the defense lawyer, contended that the publicity from the TV appearance led to other moneymaking opportunities, including a book deal and a strip club tour.

Daniels said she’s received $100,000 and is due another $25,000 for footage and other rights she provided to the makers of a documentary about her experiences that aired recently on the NBC streaming service Peacock.

Some of the money was used to compensate camera operators who had filmed her before the documentary’s producers got involved, she said.

Daniels said she was not paid for any interviews she gave for the documentary.

DEFENSE LAWYER GOE
S THROUGH NDA WITH DANIELS

Trump attorney Susan Necheles ran through the finer points of the nondisclosure agreement that Stormy Daniels had with Michael Cohen, asking Daniels to confirm that she agreed to highlighted portions.

Daniels responds in terse one-word answers, “Yes,” adding: “I signed this only based on what my attorneys suggested.”

Necheles confronted Daniels with two statements she signed in early 2018 denying that she ever had any sexual involvement with Trump or received money to keep quiet. She said her then-lawyer, Keith Davidson, advised her to sign it, and that she was told that Cohen was pressing him to get her to do so.

Necheles noted that by then, Trump wasn’t running for election — an apparent effort to buttress the defense’s argument that Trump’s desire to squelch what he says are false claims about his personal life wasn’t related to his political ambitions, but rather to protect his family and reputation.

“I wouldn’t know what he wanted to protect,” Daniels said.

DANIELS DENIES YELLING AT HER FORMER LAWYER

Stormy Daniels conceded Thursday that she was angry when Michael Cohen was slow to pay her the $130,000 he’d promised in exchange for her silence about a sexual encounter with Donald Trump, but she denied ever yelling at her then-lawyer Keith Davidson demanding to be paid.

“You were furious, weren’t you?” Trump lawyer Susan Necheles asked during cross-examination.

“Yes,” Daniels testified.

Necheles then played an audio recording of a phone call in which Davidson told Cohen that if he didn’t pay up, the boyfriend of Daniels’ manager might go public claiming he’d heard her on the phone screaming at Davidson to settle the case.

Davidson, relaying what the boyfriend might say about Daniels, was heard saying: “If (Trump) loses this election, we all lose all (expletive) leverage. This case is worth zero.”

Daniels denied that the third-hand imagined account of what her manager’s boyfriend might say bore any resemblance to how she actually interacted with her lawyer at the time.

“I’ve never yelled at Keith Davidson on the phone,” Daniels testified, looking at a transcript of the recording. “This specifically says Gina’s boyfriend was going to go out and tell a story.”

DEFENSE ACCUSES DANIELS OF TRYING TO PROFIT OFF STORY

Defense attorney Susan Necheles resumed cross-examination of Stormy Daniels on Thursday by pressing her on why she decided to take money to keep silent about her alleged sexual encounter with Donald Trump instead of holding a press conference, as Daniels has said she wanted to do.

“Why didn’t you do that?” Necheles asked.

“Because we were running out of time,” Daniels said. Did she mean, Necheles asked, that she was running out of time to use the claim to make money? “To get the story out,” Daniels countered. The negotiations were happening in the final weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign.

As Daniels was negotiating her non-disclosure agreement with Michael Cohen, she testified, she was also speaking with other journalists, including an editor at Slate as a “backup” plan.

While Daniels said she was most interested in getting her story out and ensuring her family’s safety, Necheles accused her of refusing to share the story with reporters because she wouldn’t be paid for it.

“The better alternative was for you to get money, right?” Necheles said.

“The better alternative was to get my story protected with a paper trail so that my family didn’t get hurt,” Daniels replied.

TRUMP WANTS HIS GAG ORDER REMOVED

Donald Trump’s lawyers asked New York’s mid-level appeals court on Wednesday to expedite a decision on his gag order appeal.

The court did not take immediate action but set deadlines for court filings in the next two weeks. If the court refuses to lift the gag order in Trump’s hush money case, his lawyers want permission to take their appeal to the state’s high court, called the Court of Appeals.

The gag order bars the former president from speaking publicly about jurors, witnesses and some others in his criminal trial.

THE STORMY DANIELS EFFECT

Over the first few weeks of Donald Trump’s hush money trial, the scene outside the courthouse has largely settled into a routine — a few dozen members of the public, a typically small group of demonstrators and the journalists covering the day-to-day developments.

But the arrival of Stormy Daniels seems to have shifted that equilibrium.

With Daniels set to re-take the stand on Thursday, a far larger share of the public has amassed outside 100 Centre Street, alongside new ranks of media from the U.S. and abroad. A few minutes before 8 a.m., as lines swelled to their longest since the start of the trial, court officers said they had no choice but to turn people away.

Among the members of the public in line was Rose Brennan, a 63-year-old woman wearing a hand puppet meant to resemble Donald Trump. “He has accompanied me on many adventures,” she said of the puppet. “Even though I hoped he would have been retired by now.”

She said she and the puppet traveled from New Jersey, arriving outside the courthouse at 5:30 a.m. because “I just want to be a witness to history.”

A WEEK OF DEVELOPMENTS IN TRUMP’S OTHER CASES

Donald Trump is facing four criminal indictments and a civil lawsuit. You can track all of the cases here.

A Georgia appeals court on Wednesday agreed to review a lower court ruling allowing Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis to continue to prosecute the election interference case she brought against the former president.

On Tuesday, the federal judge in Florida presiding over the classified documents prosecution of Trump has canceled the May 20 trial date, postponing it indefinitely.

TRUMP LEANS INTO THE PAGEANTRY OF VICE PRESIDENTIAL TRYOUTS

As former President Donald Trump remains stuck in the courtroom listening to salacious details of an extramarital sexual encounter he denies, another spectacle is playing out in the background as his vice presidential tryouts get underway.

The dynamic was on full display in Florida at a fundraiser at his Mar-a-Lago club that doubled as a VP audition.

“This weekend, we had 15 people. … They’re all out there campaigning,” Trump told Spectrum News 1 Wisconsin on Tuesday. “It might actually be more effective this way because, you know, every one of them thinks they could be chosen, which I guess possibly is so.”

For now, the presumptive GOP nominee is happy to revel in the attention as reporters parse his choices and prospective candidates jockey and woo him in an “Apprentice”-style competition.

National News

Associated Press

Border arrests plunge 29% in June to the lowest of Biden’s presidency as asylum halt takes hold

SAN DIEGO (AP) — Arrests for illegally crossing the border from Mexico plunged 29% in June, the lowest month of Joe Biden’s presidency, according to figures released Monday that provide another window on the impact of a new rule to temporarily suspend asylum. Arrests totaled 83,536 in June, down from 117,901 in May to mark […]

2 hours ago

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

2 hours ago

FILE - People walk past May Hall, the main administrative building at Dickinson State University in...

Associated Press

President of Dickinson State University in North Dakota resigns after nursing faculty quit

DICKINSON, N.D. (AP) — The president of Dickinson State University in North Dakota announced his resignation on Monday, days after the school’s nursing faculty quit. In a video, Steve Easton announced his departure and acknowledged “turmoil between some in the faculty and the administration.” Seven faculty members resigned Wednesday, KFYR-TV reported. Former Assistant Professor of […]

2 hours ago

Associated Press

FACT FOCUS: A look at false claims around the assassination attempt on former President Trump

The assassination attempt on former President Donald Trump, who is running for reelection, is fueling a range of false claims and conspiracy theories as authorities seek information about the 20-year-old shooter’s background and motive, how he obtained the AR-style rifle he fired at Trump and security at the venue that failed to stop the shooting. […]

2 hours ago

FILE - Christina Osborn and her children, Alexander Osborn and Bella Araiza, visit a makeshift memo...

Associated Press

Judge clears way for demolition of Texas church where 26 people were killed in 2017 shooting

FLORESVILLE, Texas (AP) — A judge on Monday cleared the way for the demolition of the small Texas church in Sutherland Springs where a gunman killed more than two dozen worshippers in 2017 in what remains the deadliest church shooting in U.S. history. Following the shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, the church […]

3 hours ago

RNC Chair Michael Whatley speaks during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, 2024, i...

Associated Press

Outside RNC, conservative group defends its Project 2025 guidebook as Democrats ramp up attacks

MILWAUKEE (AP) — At the edge of the cordoned-off perimeter around the Republican National Convention on Monday, hundreds of conservatives filed into the ornate home of the Milwaukee Symphony to hear a parade of luminaries talk policy and Project 2025. Project 2025 is the term for the Heritage Foundation’s nearly 1,000-page handbook for the next […]

3 hours ago

The Latest | Judge denies defense’s 2nd request for mistrial in Trump’s hush money case