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

Donald Trump's attorneys have unsuccessfully pushed for a mistrial during the testimony of porn actor Stormy Daniels

ByLINDSAY WHITEHURST Associated Press and MICHELLE L. PRICE Associated Press
May 7, 2024, 12:58 PM

NEW YORK -- 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:

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.”

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.

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