Donald Trump Still Makes Stormy Daniels Cringe

Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty
Photo Illustration by Elizabeth Brockway/The Daily Beast/Getty

When the porn star at the center of Donald Trump’s New York case finally took the witness stand at the first ever criminal trial of a former American president on Tuesday, it sounded less like stodgy courtroom testimony and more like a chatty brunch to go over a horrible date.

Stormy Daniels raised her eyebrows suggestively when describing what it was like to suddenly find a business tycoon who wears his Brioni suit like a mandatory uniform suddenly appear in his hotel bed only clad in boxers and a T-shirt when she walked out of his bathroom.

Trump Plan to Limit Stormy Daniels’ Juicy Details Goes Sour

She smiled as she threw herself back in the chair to imitate what it was like to see him lying down in bed, “like this,” she said, raising her bare right leg above the wooden panels that line the witness box.

“What can possibly go wrong? Those were his words to me,” she laughed with regret while recalling a conversation with a friend who suggested the rising porn star go out to dinner with the real estate baron after a charity event in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, in 2006.

Speaking with a lightning fast cadence and totally at ease—sometimes even pointing directly at the jurors for emphasis—the adult film director and actress casually went over what seemed like ancient history back when she was 27 years old.

“I didn’t know his age, but I knew he was as old or older than my father,” she said.

Trump, meanwhile, remained in court like a potted plant, quiet and affixed to the maroon leather chair that’s become his home for much of the past four weeks and kept him off the 2024 presidential campaign trail. Having already paid $10,000 for violating a gag order—hush money of another variety—he left it up to his adult son Eric, sitting directly behind him, to belch out what he could not.

“Pure EXTORTION!!!!” the son tweeted midday. “Sitting front row attempting to figure out how any of this garbage from 20 years ago relates to ‘legal’ bills submitted by a long time personal attorney being booked as a ‘legal’ expense—but I digress. To be clear, they don’t give a s**t about the merits of this case.”

It was just one of many reasons why Tuesday was indeed a far cry from what has so far been a bone-dry case focusing on photocopied legal invoices and nondisclosure agreements.

The heart of the 34 felony charges levied at Trump for falsifying business records is still the documents themselves, which the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office says proves a coverup of historic proportions: that two women were silenced shortly before the 2016 election to spare Trump embarrassment that could have been fatal to his ultimately successful presidential campaign.

But Tuesday showed 18 jurors that the person referred to in documents as “Peggy Peterson a.k.a. Stormy Daniels a.k.a. Stephanie Gregory Clifford” was a living, breathing, energetic mom who was eager to finally face the man whose annoying phone calls she ignored for years—and wasn’t nearly as imposing as the public makes him out to be.

He still makes her uncomfortable.

Trump Accountant on His Stormy Daniels Coverup Notes: ‘I Made a Boo-Boo’

When prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Daniels to point out the man she slept with that one night on July 13, 2006, Daniels comically bobbed her head left and right as if struggling to make him out in the crowd. She raised her right hand, pointed him out, and described him like a suspect in a lineup: “navy blue jacket, second at the table.”

Daniels, who’d let her sweeping black sweater fall below her shoulders for much of her testimony until then, immediately pulled her open-front cardigan over her shoulders again.

But the court would only let her easygoing storytelling go so far. Unlike the federal judge who welcomed vivid detail at Trump’s two recent rape defamation trials, the stoic and bookish New York County Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan made sure the salacious details about Trump’s allegedly mushroom-shaped genitals remained in the porn star’s spicy memoir—and not in his courtroom.

When Daniels finally got to the denouement of her tale, Merchan cut it off immediately.

“The next thing I know, I’m on the bed, somehow on the opposite side of the bed… I had my clothes and my shoes off, I believe my bra however was still on. We were in the missionary position—” she started, before a swift objection from Trump lawyer Susan Necheles earned an almost simultaneous “sustained” from the judge.

During the four hours Daniels answered their questions, Manhattan prosecutors got the essence of what they wanted: a first-hand account from the woman describing exactly what she’d once been paid $130,000 to shut up about.

But the last hour of the day showed a very different side of Daniels, as Necheles pulled out her claws and tore at the porn star's reluctance to ever go public with the tale before having her agents try to sell her story—first to a small publication in 2011, then later to Trump himself in 2016.

The defense attorney tried hard to paint Daniels as a money-grubbing sellout, willing to score a deal without compunction. Necheles immediately drew jurors’ attention to the woman’s decision to first enter the sex industry to improve her pay.

“You wanted more money?” Necheles asked, with an air of accusation.

“Don't we all want more money in our jobs?” Daniels responded.

“And that motivates you a lot right? Making more money?” the lawyer shot back.

Daniels gestured around the room and openly wondered how different that would make her from anyone else.

“You've been making money by claiming you've had sex with Donald Trump for more than a decade, right?” Necheles went on. “And that story has made you a lot of money right?”

Stormy Relives Sex With Trump—and He Gets Desperate

“And it has cost me a lot of money,” the porn star responded with disdain.

Although the cross-examination lasted only an hour until the judge paused for the day, every tense minute felt longer than the morning session. The short session had its fair share of bombshells.

When Necheles probed why Daniels never pursued any sort of legal claim when she met with the famed women's rights lawyer Gloria Allred, the porn star claimed that she’d been pressured to lie and passed on the opportunity to defame the business mogul.

“She wanted me to accuse him of basically, forced, rape,” Daniels said. “She wanted to force me into saying things that aren't true.”

When Necheles bore into Daniels’ least documented claim—that a stranger approached her in 2011 when she was in a parking lot with her baby and threatened them if she didn’t keep the affair quiet—the woman got fiercely defensive.

“The whole story was made up, wasn't it?” Necheles asked.

“No, none of it was made up,” Daniels asserted.

When Trump’s lawyers called for a short break, a flustered Daniels exited the courtroom in a flash. When she returned minutes later, she was drying her wet eyes and composing herself.

By day’s end, the energy Daniels had exhibited in the morning had dissipated into pure indignation at being called a liar. And she seemed most frustrated that a man who’d had the gall to call her “horseface” to the American public from the highest office in the land now had the audacity to have his lawyers accuse her of offensive behavior.

When Necheles brought up a Nov. 9, 2022 tweet in which Daniels called him “that orange turd,” Daniels became openly hostile.

“You call him names all the time, correct?” Necheles asked.

“Yes... because he made fun of me first!” Daniels retorted.

“So one of you started it, but you both continue it, right?” the lawyer asked.

“Correct,” she responded.

Shortly after leaving, Trump addressed the journalists in the hallway outside the courtroom, his attempt at the last word for the most viscerally personal day yet in his trial.

"So this was a very big day, a very revealing day as you see their case is totally falling apart. They have nothing on books and records and even something that should bear very little relationship to the case. It's just a disaster for the DA, the Soros-backed DA is a disaster. This whole case is just a disaster,” he said.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.