Stormy Daniels’ star turn in court may have done more harm than good


It wasn’t so much a collective gasp as a synchronised rattle.

Fingers furiously jabbed at keyboards as reporters crammed into the hard, wooden benches of courtroom 1530 desperately tried to capture every cough, splutter and indignant head shake.

“I had my clothes and shoes off. I believe my bra, however, was still on. We were in the missionary position”, Stormy Daniels, the former adult film actress, told the court, describing what she claims was a rather unpassionate night of passion with the former president of the United States.

Although Susan Necheles, Donald Trump’s defence lawyer, objected, Ms Daniels continued to divulge lurid details about that alleged night in a palatial hotel suite in 2006.

“Was he wearing a condom?” Susan Hoffinger, the prosecutor for the Manhattan district attorney’s office asked.

“No,” Ms Daniels, 45, replied.

Since the sound of Ms Daniels’ heels thwacking the grey, laminate floor reverberated around the Manhattan courtroom, dreary but relevant discussions about signing cheques and company ledgers had been superseded by racy details about the adult film industry and spanking Trump’s bottom.

Things escalated quickly.

But as the dust settled on a week when the trial suddenly came to life, experts were debating whether Ms Daniels had gone too far.

Over six hours and 10 minutes of testimony, which ran over two days, both the prosecution and defence raked over explicit detail about the alleged night in question.

Some of it raised the eyebrows of Judge Juan Merchan, who portrayed disbelief that crude descriptions of the alleged sexual encounter were spilling out into his courtroom.

The prosecution argued the jury needed to hear the details of what happened that night to bolster Ms Daniels’ credibility and show why Mr Trump was so desperate to keep them from becoming public days before the 2016 election.

But Randy Zelin, a professor at Cornell Law School, thinks the salacious details, which have nothing to do with the alleged 34 counts of falsifying business documents, will only damage the Manhattan district attorney’s office case.

“To get into intimate and graphic and just horrific detail… if I’m sitting there as a juror, I’m saying to myself: ‘You don’t have a case’,” he told The Telegraph.

“I’m thinking ‘all you want me to do is hate this man, all you want to do is dirty him and muddy him and denigrate him thinking that I’m stupid enough to take the bait and convict him because I think he’s a crappy person’.”

Ms Daniels leaned back in her maroon, leather chair for those six or so hours as she took the jury on a journey from life growing up in a “low income” household in Louisiana to meeting Mr Trump in the gift room at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe.

After accepting an invitation to join Mr Trump, 77, for dinner, sent via Keith Schiller, his bodyguard, Ms Daniels put on a pair of strappy, gold sandals and made her way to the penthouse suite at Harrah’s hotel.

Ms Daniels looked directly at the jury, at points giggling as though she was talking with friends over brunch, as she detailed everything she alleged happened behind that hotel-room door.

STI testing, whether adult actresses have unions and sleeping separate bedrooms from Melania Trump were all topics of conversation before Ms Daniels “swatted” Mr Trump “right on the butt” with a rolled-up magazine with his face on it, Ms Daniels claimed.

“Bull—-”, Mr Trump said, writhing in his chair.

At points, Ms Daniels appeared to recount non-consensual sex. She “blacked out”, she said, before asserting that she had not been drugged or threatened. There was a “power imbalance”.

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