Judge denies mistrial request from Trump lawyer over porn star Stormy Daniels testimony

Adult-film actress Stephanie Clifford, also known as Stormy Daniels, speaks as she departs federal court in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York on April 16, 2018. File photo: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

New York: The judge overseeing Donald Trump's criminal trial denied on Tuesday a mistrial request by Trump's lawyer, who argued the day's testimony by porn star Stormy Daniels about a 2006 encounter was irrelevant and would only inflame the jury.

“How can we come back from this in a way that’s fair to President Trump?” Blanche said. Justice Juan Merchan said he agreed there were some elements of Daniels' testimony that would have been better left unsaid. "I think the witness was a little bit difficult to control," he said. "I don’t think we’re at the point where a mistrial is warranted."

The motion came after several hours of riveting testimony by Daniels, who told the jury about the alleged sexual encounter with Trump and a $130,000 hush money payment she secured when he ran for president in 2016.

Daniels testified that she was eager to collect on the deal that bought her silence because she was worried he would not pay her if he won the election.

Daniels told the New York jury she was determined to keep the incident private after being threatened in a parking lot in 2011 but changed her mind during Trump's 2016 presidential bid when he faced multiple accusations of sexual misbehavior. "My motivation wasn't money, it was to get the story out," she said.

Daniels, 45, spoke in detail about the encounter, which ultimately led to the first criminal trial of a former U.S. president. Trump has pleaded not guilty to charges of falsifying business records to cover up the hush-money payment to Daniels.

Trump, 77, and the Republican candidate for president again this year, did not react as he watched her testimony from the witness stand.

He has denied ever having sex with Daniels and his legal team has suggested that Daniels made up the story, as she was angling for a spot on "The Apprentice," a popular reality TV show then hosted by Trump, a New York real estate mogul. Daniels confirmed that she hoped he would cast her on the show following their encounter.

Republican presidential candidate and former US President Donald Trump walks, as his criminal trial over charges that he falsified business records to conceal money paid to silence porn star Stormy Daniels in 2016 continues, in New York City on May 7, 2024. Photo: Reuters/David Dee Delgado

Daniels said Trump made sexual advances after inviting her to his hotel suite at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Nevada. She said he told her "this is the only way you're getting out of the trailer park." Daniels testified she grew up as the daughter of a low-income single mother.

Daniels said she "blacked out" despite consuming no drugs or alcohol after Trump prevented her from leaving the room by blocking the door. She said she woke up on the bed with her clothes off.

"I was staring at the ceiling and didn't know how I got there, I was trying to think about anything other than what was happening there," Daniels testified.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she did not tell Trump to stop. "I didn't say anything at all," she said. She said she left the hotel room quickly afterward.

The Republican politician, who served as president from 2017 to 2021, says the trial is an attempt to hobble his attempt to win back the White House from Democratic President Joe Biden in the Nov. 5 election.

Wearing a black outfit and black glasses, Daniels testified that she worked in strip clubs and pornography after a childhood in which her single mother was often gone for days at a time.

She said Trump greeted her at his hotel suite wearing satin pajamas. She said she grew annoyed by Trump's frequent interruptions and asked him: "Are you always this arrogant and pompous?"

Trump then dared Daniels to spank him with a magazine and she obliged. “He was much more polite after that,” she said. "That's bull**it," Trump appeared to say as he watched from the defendant's table. The alleged encounter took place while Trump was married to his current wife, Melania.

Daniels said she confided in only a few people about the sex. She said she saw Trump at public events on several occasions in the years that followed, but then fell out of touch with him after he did not put her on the show.

She said she was approached in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011 by a man who warned her not to speak about the encounter. "I was scared and I didn't want anything else about the story to come out," she said.

She said she changed her mind during Trump's 2016 bid and ultimately negotiated a $130,000 payment with Trump's lawyer Michael Cohen.

Prosecutors say Trump falsified business records to obscure the fact that he reimbursed Cohen for the payment. They say that amounts to an illegal scheme to influence the 2016 election by buying the silence of people with potentially damaging information.

The case is widely seen as less consequential than three other criminal prosecutions Trump faces, but it is the only one certain to go to trial before the election. The other cases charge Trump with trying to overturn his 2020 presidential defeat and mishandling classified documents after leaving office. Trump has pleaded not guilty to all three.

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