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A Recap of Stormy Daniels’s Testimony So Far in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial

LocalA Recap of Stormy Daniels’s Testimony So Far in Trump’s Hush-Money Trial


For nearly five hours this week, the woman whose encounter with Donald J. Trump resulted in his criminal trial years later has told her side of the story. On Thursday, she will defend that account.

The woman, Stormy Daniels, answered questions from Manhattan prosecutors for several hours Tuesday before Mr. Trump’s lawyers began cross-examining her, and she will return to the stand Thursday. Defense lawyers are expected to grill her about inconsistencies in her account of a liaison at golf tournament and her motives in divulging it.

Ms. Daniels began her testimony by describing how she and Mr. Trump met, a now-infamous encounter just off a fairway in Lake Tahoe, Nev., during a celebrity tournament in July 2006.

Ms. Daniels, a porn star, had been greeting people who strolled through a tent at one of the tournament’s holes that had been sponsored by her employer, the film company Wicked Pictures. One was Mr. Trump, the real estate mogul whose fame had skyrocketed as a result of his hosting the reality television show “The Apprentice.”

He said hello to Ms. Daniels and posed for a picture, she said on Tuesday, in intense and sometimes graphic testimony mere feet from Mr. Trump, during the first criminal trial of a former American president.

Ms. Daniels said their conversation in the tent was brief — he remarked on her intelligence, evident because she not only starred in films but also directed them, she said.

After that encounter, his bodyguard, Keith Schiller, told Ms. Daniels that Mr. Trump would like to have dinner with her, she said. Mr. Schiller saved her phone number, she said. Her publicist advised her to accept the invitation, noting: “Like, what could possibly go wrong?”

She was 27. He was 60, and had a newborn son with his wife, Melania. They had been married a little more than a year.

Her account did not directly give rise to the 34 felony charges against Mr. Trump. Instead, they resulted from Mr. Trump’s reimbursement of the $130,000 in hush money that Michael D. Cohen, the former president’s fixer and personal lawyer, paid to Ms. Daniels in the days before the 2016 election. Prosecutors say that the payments to Mr. Cohen were purposely mislabeled within the Trump Organization as “legal expenses,” a falsification of business records intended to conceal the deal.

On the night in question, Ms. Daniels said, she arrived at Mr. Trump’s suite on a penthouse floor of the Harrah’s Lake Tahoe Hotel, a few blocks from the lakeside golf course. Mr. Schiller greeted her outside the room, the door cracked open for her entry, she said.

Mr. Trump was wearing “silk or satin” sleepwear, Ms. Daniels testified; after she cracked a joke — “Does Mr. Hefner know you stole his pajamas?” — he changed his clothes.

With the sun still shining through the windows, they began to talk about their lives, she testified, with Mr. Trump taking a particular interest in the business side of her career. Were there unions? Did she get health insurance? Did she worry about sexually transmitted diseases? Was she ever tested? (Every 30 days, she said.)

She could not fully answer most of his questions because he kept cutting her off, she said on the witness stand. She told him he was arrogant and deserved punishment: a spanking, she said. He handed her a rolled-up magazine and she did just that.

He said she reminded him of his daughter Ivanka, who was 25 at the time. He also said she would be a good contestant on his reality show and that it could lead to other opportunities in the entertainment business. (She never appeared on the show.)

At one point, she wandered around the suite, she said, and ended up in the bathroom. She touched up her lipstick and noticed his toiletry bag, with Old Spice and a manicure set in all gold. When she exited, he had changed clothes again, she said. He lay on the bed in boxers and a T-shirt.

Ms. Daniels said her memory of what happened next was not clear — she thought she had blacked out — but that she remembered ending up on the bed with Mr. Trump, most of her clothes and her shoes off. It was dark outside by then, and she stared at the ceiling.

“I didn’t know how I got there,” she recalled thinking in the moment. “I was trying to think about anything other than what was happening there.”

Mr. Trump has repeatedly denied that he had sex with Ms. Daniels. On cross-examination, one of his lawyers, Susan Necheles, suggested that Ms. Daniels was a liar who had made up her story to extract cash from Mr. Trump.

“That story has made you a lot of money, right?” Ms. Necheles said. “It has also cost me a lot of money,” Ms. Daniels replied.

Ms. Daniels said that over the years she had considered going public about her account, even by selling the story to a magazine. She testified that she had discussed a $15,000 deal with a magazine in 2011 but that Mr. Cohen had heard about it and threatened to sue the publication.

After nearly a full day on the stand, Ms. Daniels had started to answer questions from Mr. Trump’s defense team about her renewed desire in summer 2016 to tell her story. At the time, Mr. Trump was about to secure the Republican Party’s presidential nomination.

Much of what happened next has been disclosed by other witnesses. Mr. Cohen once again heard about her account’s being revealed and rushed to buy her silence just days before the election.

Ms. Daniels will pick up there on Thursday.



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