Trump’s Lawyer Tries To Cast Doubt On Stormy Daniels’ Claims Of Sexual Encounter And Threat To Stay Silent — Update

UPDATE: Stormy Daniels faced a contentious cross examination today over her claim that she had sex with Donald Trump in 2006 and that, five years later, a stranger threatened her in a Las Vegas parking lot to not talk about the sexual encounter publicly.

Susan Necheles, a lawyer for Trump, questioned Daniels’ motivations and tried to cast doubt on her story. She also highlighted the fact that Daniels owes more than $500,000 in legal fees from a failed defamation lawsuit against Trump.

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Necheles argued that as far back as 2011, Daniels was alternately confirming or denying sex with Trump depending on whether she was being paid for her story.

A $130,000 payment to Daniels in 2016 from Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, is the centerpiece of the Manhattan District Attorney’s case against Trump, for allegedly falsifying business records to conceal a reimbursement of the money to Cohen. Daniels, a key prosecution witness, spent more than three hours being questioned by Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger about sex with the married Trump, the threat on her life, and the non-disclosure agreement.

When the defense got its turn, Necheles immediately treated Daniels as a hostile witness. “You rehearsed your testimony here, right?” she said in her second question, alluding to Daniels having once described “grueling prep sessions” with DA’s office that included a “brutal mock cross examination.” Daniels denied that her testimony was rehearsed. She said “grueling” referred to the difficulty of reliving the experience.

“The memories were hard to bring up,” she said. “They were painful.”

Necheles also asked her, “It’s that simple: You want more money, right?”

“Don’t we all want to make more money?” Daniels shot back.

“And is it correct that you hate President Trump” Necheles asked. “Yes,” Daniels replied.

Daniels sat for an interview about the sexual encounter with InTouch magazine in 2011 that would have earned her $15,000 if the story was published. (A version of the story ran years later, but Daniels said she was never paid.) But Necheles pointed out that Daniels had called the story “bullshit” that year to E! News and had her lawyer, Keith Davidson, get a 2011 blog post about the encounter pulled from a gossip website called The Dirty — and neither outlet was paying Daniels.

Daniels said she was calling “bullshit” on E! News for publishing the story, not denying that she had had sex with Trump. And she denied telling her lawyer go to The Dirty with a denial, only to get the site to pull the story, which it did.

Necheles, drawing from Daniels’ 2018 memoir, Full Disclosure, confronted her with her published account of a 2011 meeting with lawyer Gloria Allred. Daniels wrote that she gave Allred an “extremely abbreviated” account of her 2006 encounter with Trump, and left out any mention of sex, despite being prompted by Allred If there was anything further else she wanted to disclose.

Daniels replied, “When I met her in person later I told her everything.”

“You’re making this up as you sit there,” Necheles said  After a long pause, Daniels, looking taken aback, said, “No.”

Necheles said the interaction with Allred “taught you that if you want to make money off President Trump, you better talk about sex.”

“No,” Daniels replied, “although that does seem to be the case.”

Necheles also questioned what she called “the supposed threat” against Daniels’ life in 2011. Daniels first went public with the claim in a 2018 interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, but admitted she never told her husband about it, despite their infant daughter being with her as she took her to a maternal exercise class. In her memoir, Daniels wrote that she “went and did the class” after the chilling encounter with the stranger.

On the stand, she said she didn’t participate in the class, but instead went into the facility’s bathroom with her daughter to compose herself, and later told the class instructor that her daughter had had a “blow up.” Necheles noted that despite her lawyer at the time, Michael Avenatti, releasing a sketch of the stranger, no one has ever been identified as the person who threatened her not to talk.

On the subject of the legal fees from the failed defamation suit she filed with help from Avenatti, Necheles referred to Daniels’ own tweets. One read “I will go to jail before I pay a penny” and another read “I don’t owe him shit and I’ll never give that orange turd a dime.”

“That was you saying ‘I don’t care about a federal court order,’ ” Necheles said.

Daniels later said she doesn’t know whether she’ll agree to pay the fees. Trump has sued her in Florida to collect the debt.

Daniels will return to the stand on Thursday when the trial resumes.

PREVIOUSLY: The judge presiding over Donald Trump’s hush money case denied the former president lawyer’s motion for a mistrial.

Todd Blanche, representing Trump, said that Stormy Daniels’ testimony was “unduly and inappropriately prejudicial.”

Earlier today, Daniels testified about a sexual encounter with The Apprentice host in 2006. Daniels then described receiving a threat not to go public with the story.

“It’s still extraordinarily prejudicial to insert safety concerns into a trial about business records,” Blanche said.

He said that in 2016, Daniels had been trying to sell her story of a consensual encounter with Trump, but “that’s not the story we heard today.”

Susan Hoffinger, one of the prosecutors in the case, said that Daniels’ testimony “goes directly to the issue of her credibility,” which she said the defense has repeatedly attacked.

Judge Juan Merchan said that “there were some things that were probably better left unsaid.” The judge added, “In fairness to The People, I think your witness is a little difficult to control.”

“Having said that, I don’t believe we’re at the point where a mistrial is warranted.”

He said that the defense could examine inconsistencies in Daniels’ story on cross examination. He said that he planned to give the jury an instruction about Daniels’ account of being threatened by an unknown person in a parking lot in 2011. But that instruction likely won’t come until Thursday at the earliest.

Citing her testimony that she wasn’t drugged, but that she “blacked out” at some point before the sexual encounter, and that Trump didn’t use a condom, Blanche said Daniels was introducing the issue of sexual coercion. “The only reason the government asked those question, aside from embarrassment, is to inflame the jury,” he said.

“I was surprised there were not more objections,” Merchan told Blanche, noting that he himself had issued one objection from the bench during Daniels’ testimony. “When you say the bell has been rung, the defense has to take some responsibility for that.”

There were several instances of Merchan upholding the defense objections and striking Daniels’ testimony from the record, including that Trump told her, just before they had sex, “If you ever want to get out of the trailer park … ” It was a reference to Daniels’ impoverished childhood in Baton Rouge, LA.

PREVIOUSLY: Adult film actress Stormy Daniels testified earlier today that she and Donald Trump had sex in his hotel suite in Lake Tahoe in 2006, and that he never asked her to stay quiet about the encounter in their many follow-up calls and meetings.

Then, in 2011, after she had done an interview with InTouch magazine about the encounter for an article that never ran, a stranger approached her and her infant daughter in a parking lot in Las Vegas as she was going into a maternal workout class, “and he threatened me not to continue to tell my story,” Daniels testified.

Daniels, a key prosecution witness in the Manhattan District Attorney’s hush money case against Trump, said that from that point onward her priority was to tell her story as a way to stay “safe.”

“My motivation wasn’t money, it was to get the story out,” Daniels testified. When the story did surface later that year, however, in October on a gossip website called The Dirty, Daniels said she panicked “because I had been threatened, and I didn’t want the person who threatened me and my baby thinking I had done it.”

“I was freaking out, crying, hyperventilating,” Daniels recalled.

Attorney Keith Davidson, then representing her manager, intervened and got the website to pull the story — an episode that Davidson in detail during his own testimony earlier in the trial, when he said that Trump’s lawyer, Michael Cohen, swore at him in a phone call and he assured Cohen that Daniels hadn’t talked to the gossip site.

Prosecutors have tied their case against Trump to a $130,000 payment that Daniels received from Cohen. The historic indictment of a former U.S. president charges that Trump falsified business records to conceal his reimbursement to Cohen, and that Trump’s financial deceptions were felonies because they were intended to influence the 2016 presidential election by concealing a potential sex scandal in the last days of the campaign.

It wasn’t clear from testimony who threatened Daniels in the parking lot.

In testimony frequently upended by defense objections that Judge Juan Merchan upheld, Daniels said her manager, Gina Rodriguez, approached other publications but with no success — until the infamous Access Hollywood tape surfaced in October of 2016 of Trump bragging that he grabbed women by the genitals.

Soon after, she told jurors and Assistant District Attorney Susan Hoffinger, she learned that Trump and his emissary Cohen wanted to create a non-disclosure agreement for $130,000.

“And who was the beneficiary of that NDA?” Hoffinger asked.

“Donald Trump,” Daniels replied.

Daniels said she “didn’t care” about the dollar figure. “It was just to get it done.” She described her financial situation as an adult performer as “the best it had ever been.”

Daniels said she signed the agreement using a fake name, Peggy Peterson, and she signed a side letter agreement containing the two parties’ real names, hers and Trump’s.

She said she wanted the agreement completed before the November presidential election. But as an October 14 deadline for payout came and went, Daniels said she worried “that I wouldn’t be safe or he would never pay, or there wouldn’t be a trail to keep me safe,” meaning a paper trail.

She said she was concerned that “if it wasn’t done before the election it wasn’t ever going to happen.”

Daniels, wearing a dark top with her blonde hair pulled back, spoke so rapidly and discursively that Judge Merchan asked her to slow down to let the court reporter catch up, and then chided her to confine her answers to the question being asked. After one break, Judge Merchan told Hoffinger that “the degree of detail that we’re going into is unnecessary.”

Daniels described meeting Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006. It was then that he invited her to his hotel room, she said.

Daniels said the sexual encounter happened after she emerged from Trump’s hotel suite bathroom and found him lying on the bed in boxers and a t-shirt. She said the sight of him gave her a “jump scare” because he had been fully dressed, she testified, when they were sitting in the suite earlier talking for two hours.

She said she thought, “Oh my god, what did I misread to get here?”

She said it had been her intention to leave, but that she instead wound up on the bed with Trump. She said they weren’t drinking alcohol, and that she hadn’t been drugged, and she didn’t describe the sex as coerced, but she described the encounter as a kind of out-of-body experience. “I didn’t say anything at all,” she said.

Afterwards, she said her hands were shaking so much she had trouble dressing herself. She testified that Trump said, “Oh it was great, let’s get together again, honey bunch.”

“I just wanted to leave,” Daniels. She recalled seeing a copy of one her DVD’s that she had signed for Trump sitting on the nightstand.

PREVIOUSLY: Stormy Daniels detailed what happened when she met Donald Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in 2006, including a lengthy conversation that preceded a sexual encounter.

Trump has denied her claim.

On the witness stand, Daniels testified that she and Trump spent two hours just talking in his lavish Lake Tahoe hotel suite after they had met earlier in the day on a golf course during a celebrity golf tournament in July 2006. Daniels was there because the adult film company she worked for, Wicked, had sponsored one of the golf course tournament holes — a detail she said she found funny.

The key figure in the Manhattan District Attorney’s hush money case against Trump, Daniels delivered a detailed account of the evening she spent at the hotel and the lengthy conversation that preceded the sexual encounter she claims happened. A Trump lieutenant, Michael Cohen, would later pay Daniels $130,000 to keep silent about the encounter.

She said Trump urged her to become a contestant on his reality show The Apprentice and offered to give her inside information to help her not lose right away.

She also said she playfully swatted him on the rear, on a dare from him, because she found him arrogant and overbearing in conversation. After that, Daniels said, “He was much more polite.”

Daniels testimony will continue after a mid-morning break.

PREVIOUSLY: Stormy Daniels took the stand in Donald Trump’s hush money trial in New York on Tuesday, a star witness in the prosecution’s case against the former president.

Speaking at a rapid clip, Daniels started by telling the jury her biography, before she answered questions about a 2006 celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe where she claims that a tryst with Trump occurred.

She laughed as she testified that her publicist urged her to go to dinner with Trump, after she had rejected an initial invite made by Trump’s bodyguard. “It was like. ‘What could possibly go wrong?'” she said.

Daniels was the second witness called today.

Prosecutors opened testimony with a survey of two books he wrote in the 2000s, Trump: How to Get Rich and Trump: Think Like a Billionaire. Trump co-wrote them with a longtime Trump Organization employee, speechwriter Meredith McIver.

A senior editor at Random House Penguin, Sally Franklin, testifying under a subpoena, read aloud excerpts from both books — which were published by Random House Penguin imprints — at the prompting of Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Mangold.

Jurors saw and heard excerpts from chapters entitled “Pay Attention to the Details,” “How to Pinch Pennies” and “Sometimes You Still Have to Screw Them.” In the latter chapter, Franklin read aloud Trump’s philosophy of payback: “For many years I’ve said when someone screws you screw them back.

Franklin also read a passage that extolled Trump’s then-chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, “as a loyal employee and the ultimate master of playing the cards of business.” Weisselberg is currently serving five months in jail.

A passage from How To Get Rich about Trump’s experience as host of the hit reality show The Apprentice said, “All the women on the Apprentice flirted with me, consciously or unconsciously. That’s to be expected.”

In another passage read aloud from Think Like a Billionaire, Trump wrote, “I always sign my checks so I know where my money’s going.”

In a brief cross-examination, Trump lawyer Todd Blanche noted that for both books Trump had a credited co-author, Meredith McIver, a longtime Trump Organization speechwriter. Blanche asked if McIver might have served as a ghostwriter of the book. “I’m not sure how exactly she contributed,” Franklin replied. “All I know is she helped our primary author in some way.”

That exchange prompted Mangold to lead Franklin through another set of excerpts, with details from the book’s acknowledgment pages and asides from Trump about his personal history and business philosophy. The idea was to establish that the memories, ideas and themes of the books came directly from Trump, not a ghostwriter.

PREVIOUSLY: Stormy Daniels is scheduled to testify today in Donald Trump’s hush money trial in New York.

One of Trump’s attorneys, Susan Necheles, confirmed in court that Daniels will be the second witness called by prosecution. Necheles objected to Daniels testimony, “in particular to her testifying about any details about sexual acts.”

“There is really no reason for it to be coming into a case about books and records,” she argued.

Daniels, the former porn actress, claimed that she had sex with Trump in 2006, something he has denied. The trial centers on a $130,000 hush money payment to her in advance of the 2016 presidential election. Prosecutors contend that Trump falsified business records to conceal the payment.

One of the prosecutors, Susan Hoffinger, said that Daniels’ testimony “completes the narrative of the story…The details are important..And it’s important for us to establish her credibllity.”

Judge Juan Merchan said that he will allow Daniels to testify, saying that the prosecution had assured him that they were “not going into detail about the sexual act itself.”

But Hoffinger clarified that they “have to elicit that they had intercourse.” Merchan agreed with the prosecution, saying that Daniels has “credibility issues” and it was important for “certain background information” to be discussed.

The first witness called was Sally Franklin, senior vice president and managing editor at Random House, publisher of Trump’s books like How to Get Rich and Think Like A Billionaire.

PREVIOUSLY: Stormy Daniels could take the stand in Donald Trump’s hush money trial as soon as today, according to multiple press reports.

The porn actress — whose real name is Stephanie Clifford — was paid $130,000 by a Trump lawyer, Michael Cohen, during the 2016 presidential campaign to stay quiet about a sexual encounter with the married Trump that she claimed had happened a decade earlier.

Daniels attorney Clark Brewster told the AP that it was “likely” Daniels would take the stand today.

The deal with Daniels is the centerpiece of the Manhattan District Attorney’s case against Trump. After Cohen paid her off days before the 2016 election, prosecutors say, Trump and his allies undertook a lawbreaking scheme to repay Cohen. They falsified business records by disguising the reimbursement as taxable income for legal work Cohen never did, according to prosecutors.

Trump has denied any sexual contact with Daniels, and his lawyers have suggested that Cohen acted on his own to protect Trump from her salacious claims. Monday’s comparatively dry and detailed testimony — from a pair of Trump Organization accounting employees, once since retired — revealed the inner workings of the payments to Cohen.

Even as president, Trump made time to sign checks to Cohen that were approved by his company’s chief financial officer and overnighted to the White House, according to testimony from the Trump accounting employees.

Daniels went on to write a tell-all memoir, Full Disclosure, claiming she slept with the Celebrity Apprentice star in 2006 at a celebrity golf tournament in California.

Earlier today, Trump posted a message on his social media platform, Truth Social, that read, “I have just recently been told who the witness is today. This is unprecedented, no time for lawyers to prepare. No Judge has ever run a trial in such a biased and partisan way.” He then deleted the post. The judge in the case, Juan Merchan, has threatened Trump with jail time if his continues to comment on witnesses or potential witnesses in the case, as well as jurors and other participants. The judge already has fined Trump $10,000 for violations of a partial gag order.

Merchan’s gag order does not apply to himself, and the judge remains a daily target of Trump’s free-ranging remarks to press outside the courtroom.

Trump on Monday responded to a second contempt ruling by suggesting he’s willing to risk lockup to assert his First Amendment rights. “And frankly, you know what, our Constitution is much more important than jail,” he said on his way out of court Monday. “It’s not even close. I’ll do that sacrifice any day.”

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