Key moments from week four of Trump trial as Stormy Daniels testified about hotel night together

During the third week of testimony, jurors heard from adult film star Stormy Daniels about the night she met Trump and their alleged affair

Alex Woodward
in Manhattan criminal court
,Ariana Baio,Kelly Rissman,Oliver O'Connell
Friday 10 May 2024 23:20 BST
Donald Trump calls it ‘revealing day’ after Stormy Daniels testimony

The fourth week of trial, and third week of testimony, in Donald Trump’s New York criminal trial concluded on Friday, closing out days of evidence from various witnesses and experts – including adult film star Stormy Daniels.

Early in the week, Ms Daniels gave detailed accounts about her alleged affair with Mr Trump that ultimately led the former president’s lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen to pay her $130,000 in exchange for her silence.

Ms Daniel’s testimony was salacious enough to inspire Mr Trump’s defence team to ask for two mistrials or a modification to the gag order to allow the former president to speak about her.

Judge Merchan denied the motions and warned Mr Trump that future gag order violations could result in jail time.

Prosecutors are expected to call their final witnesses, including Cohen, next week and rest their case.

Until then, here are some key takeaways from week three.

Day 12

Trump could go to jail if he keeps violating the gag order

On Monday, Judge Merchan warned Mr Trump if he continues violating the gag order intended to protect jurors, witnesses court staff and their families, it could result in incarceration.

“Because this is now the [10th] time that this Court has found Defendant in criminal contempt, spanning three separate motions, it is apparent that monetary fines have not, and will not, suffice to deter Defendant from violating this Court’s lawful orders,” the judge wrote.

It arrived after Mr Trump told Real America’s Voice in April that the jury in his trial was “95 per cent Democrats” and “very unfair”.

Judge Merchan said the former president’s comment raised “the specter of fear for the safety of the jurors and of their loved ones.”

Prosecution lays out details of falsified business records

Two key Trump Organization employees – comptroller Jeffrey McConney and accounts payable supervisor Deb Tarasoff – gave jurors a detailed look into the allegedly “falsified” business records at the heart of the case.

Mr McConney and Ms Tarasoff walked the court through Cohen’s invoices, how they were forwarded to then-CFO Allen Weisselberg, and how they were paperclipped together with checks and sent to Mr Trump, who signed them in black Sharpie. The bulk of the checks came from Mr Trump’s personal checking account.

Jurors were shown emails for each invoice, their entries in the company’s accounting system, and pay stubs and paychecks, among other documents, that showed them listed as “legal expense” or for a legal “retainer.”

Former President Donald Trump sits in Manhattan criminal court, Monday, May 6, 2024 in New York. (AP)

Day 13

Stormy Daniels testifies to sexual encounter with Trump

For almost four hours, Ms Daniels described intimate details about the alleged affair at the heart of the allegations that led to the $130,000 payment.

Ms Daniels told the court how she met Mr Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe in July 2006 and, after the day’s event, she was invited to dinner with him. She testified that she was instructed to take a certain elevator to the penthouse suite in the hotel where he was staying.

She claims that when got off the elevator, Mr Trump approached her “wearing silk or satin pajamas” that she asked him to change out of.

As they chatted, Ms Daniels testified that she grew annoyed with Mr Trump’s “arrogance”, telling the court that he always seemed to try to “one-up” her and talk about himself.

The adult film star then said she “swatted him right on the butt” with a rolled-up Forbes magazine. After that, he was “much more polite.”

‘You remind me of my daughter’

Ms Daniels told jurors that at some point in the conversation, Ms Daniels recalled Mr Trump telling her: “You remind me of my daughter – smart, blonde and beautiful. And people underestimate her as well.”

Melania and Trump ‘don’t even sleep in the same room’

She also told the court that Mr Trump showed her a photo of Melania but told her not to worry about his then-newlywed wife claiming they didn’t “sleep in the same room.”

In this courtroom sketch, Stormy Daniels testifies on the witness stand as Judge Juan Merchan looks on in Manhattan criminal court, Tuesday, May 7, 2024 (AP)

Trump unsuccessfully makes bid for a mistrial

Todd Blanche, Mr Trump’s lawyer, took issue with Ms Daniels’ explosive testimony, arguing that aside from “pure embarrassment,” the porn star’s testimony is intended “to inflame this jury to not look at the evidence that matters but just here from this witness”.

Judge Merchan denied Mr Trump’s request for a mistrial but said he was surprised that the defense hadn’t objected to more of Ms Daniels’ testimony.

Daniels admits to hating Trump

Cross-examination got testy between defense attorney Susan Necheles and Ms Daniels.

At one point, Ms Necheles pressed Ms Daniels about her thoughts on the former president, asking if the porn star hated Mr Trump.

“Yes,” Ms Daniels said.

“And you want him to go to jail?” Ms Necheles then asked.

Ms Daniels replied: “I want him to be held accountable.”

Ms Necheles asked her the question again, to which Ms Daniels said, “If he’s found guilty, absolutely.”

Former US President Donald Trump attends his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments linked to extramarital affairs, at Manhattan Criminal Court in New York City, on May 7, 2024 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Day 14

Stormy Daniels stands her ground and defends her career

The defense’s cross-examination of Ms Daniels continued on Thursday with Ms Necheles challenging the witness’s alleged inconsistencies in her account of her first meeting with Mr Trump between 2011 when an interview appeared in In Touch magazine.

But Ms Daniels remained calm and firm in her responses and was not moved by Ms Necheles’ attempts to undermine both her story and her livelihood.

Ms Daniels was adamant that her account was the same and only differed in the medium in which it appeared, noting about In Touch: “This is an entertainment magazine,” adding: “It is very fast and short … and an abbreviated entertaining version of the event. … It is minus some details. It is a short interview.”

“This was your career for over 20 years, writing, acting, and directing sex films,” Ms Necheles asked. “You have a lot of experience making phoney stories about sex appear real, right?”

“Wow,” Ms Daniels said, pausing to laugh in the closest the trial has seen to a mic drop moment. “That’s not how I would put it. … The sex in those films is very much real just like in that hotel room.”

She added: “If that story was untrue, I would’ve written it better.”

Stormy Daniels testifies on the witness stand as a promotional image for one of her shows featuring an image of Trump is displayed on monitors in Manhattan criminal court, Thursday, May 9, 2024 (AP)

Daniels speaks about ‘Make America Horny Again’ tour

Ms Necheles asked Ms Daniels about her 2018 “Make America Horny Again” strip club tour.

Ms Necheles asked Ms Daniels if she was “selling” herself “as someone who could get President Trump indicted” to people who hated the former president.

Ms Daniels said she was not and that the tour name was not her decision.

“These are strip club patrons who are fans of my work,” Ms Daniels replied.

Trump’s ‘gatekeeper’ cries

Former Trump administration aide Madeleine Westerhout gave a tearful testimony while fondly recounting her time working for Mr Trump.

Her testimony focused on the administrative side of the Oval Office, including handling the checks that Mr Trump would sign and send back to the Trump Organization in New York.

Former White House assistant to then-President Donald Trump, Madeleine Westerhout weeps on the stand describing how she lost her White House job in Manhattan criminal court, Thursday, May 9, 2024 (AP)

Judge denies another bid for mistrial and modification to gag order

Mr Trump’s legal team asked Judge Merchan to modify the gag order, arguing the former president should be allowed to respond to testimony from Ms Daniels since she was now off the stand.

Mr Blanche also requested a mistrial, claiming Ms Daniel’s testimony was unfairly prejudicial. He accused prosecutors of blowing a “dog whistle for rape” by allowing Ms Daniels to claim that Mr Trump did not wear a condom when they had sex.

Judge Merchan denied the modification of the gag order and bid for a mistrial.

Former President Donald Trump gestures as he walks to the courtroom following a break in his trial at Manhattan criminal court Thursday, May 9, 2024, in New York (AP)

Day 15

Ex-White House ‘gatekeeper’ blows up Trump’s defense

Ms Westerhout returned the stand on Friday, testifying that Mr Trump was “upset” when Ms Daniels’ allegations surfaced in 2018 and that it was her “understanding” that “he knew it would be hurtful to his family.”

But he never told her that, according to her testimony under cross-examination from Mr Trump’s team on Friday.

“I don’t believe he specifically said that but I could just tell the whole situation was unpleasant,” she said. “Meaning, he didn’t specifically mention his family in that conversation.”

The judge sustained the prosecution’s objection to the question and her answer, which was struck from the record.

Judge to prosecutors: Tell Michael Cohen to stop talking

Mr Trump’s attorneys have repeatedly suggested that Judge Merchan find a way to gag Michael Cohen, and ahead of testimony claiming his TikToks are “becoming a real problem”.

The judge found a compromise: prosecutors should tell him that the judge has told him to be quiet.

Former Director of Oval Office Operations Madeleine Westerhout is cross-examined by defense attorney Susan Necheles during former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal trial on charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016, in Manhattan state court in New York City, U.S., May 10, 2024 (REUTERS)

What to expect next week: Michael Cohen takes the stand

Cohen, a key witness in the case is expected to testify as early as Monday as prosecutors look to rest their face.

Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass told Judge Merchan there are only two witnesses left and they could rest as early as Friday.

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