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Hush money: Porn star testifies against Trump

Stormy Daniels, the porn star at the heart of Donald Trump’s historic criminal trial, testified on Tuesday about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with the former president in a hotel penthouse suite.

Trump, 77, is accused of falsifying business records to reimburse his lawyer, Michael Cohen, for a $130,000 hush money payment to Daniels on the eve of his 2016 election against Hillary Clinton, when the lurid story of marital infidelity could have sunk his campaign.

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger announced “The people call Stormy Daniels,” as Trump, who is seeking to recapture the White House in November, sat at the defense table in the Manhattan courtroom flanked by his lawyers, AFP reports.

What followed was detailed testimony about the sexual encounter Daniels said she had with Trump – his pajamas, his boxer shorts, the sexual position, that he did not wear a condom – all while the former president, sitting just feet away, stared on in silence, stony-faced.

Trump has denied having sex with Daniels, and his defense team sought, unsuccessfully, to have a mistrial declared.

The extraordinary courtroom face-off comes six months before Election Day when Trump will try to defeat Democratic President Joe Biden.

Daniels walked prosecutors through her difficult childhood in Louisiana, a stint as a stripper and her eventually joining the adult film industry.

The 45-year-old, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe where she was employed as a greeter by X-rated movie company Wicked Entertainment.

Daniels said she was 27 at the time and Trump was “probably older than my father.”

She said a member of Trump’s security detail told her the real estate tycoon wanted to have dinner with her. She was reluctant but agreed after discussing it with her publicist.

When she arrived at the penthouse where Trump was staying, he emerged wearing “silk or satin pajamas which I immediately made fun of,” Daniels told the jury.

“I said ‘Does Mr Hefner know you stole his pajamas?’” she said in a reference to the outfit favored by the late Playboy magazine founder Hugh Hefner.

Trump changed clothes and they began talking about adult movies.

“He was very interested in a lot of the business stuff,” Daniels said.

Trump, who was married at the time to his current wife, Melania, suggested Daniels be on his hit reality television show, “The Apprentice,” she said.

Daniels said she went to the bathroom at one point and when she emerged Trump was on the bed in boxer shorts and a T-shirt.

“It startled me,” she said. “The intention was pretty clear.”

“I was not threatened verbally or physically,” Daniels said, although there was an “imbalance of power.”

She said they had brief sex on the bed “in missionary position” and Trump did not wear a condom.

“I felt ashamed I didn’t stop it, didn’t say no,” Daniels said.

Daniels said she met with Trump again on several occasions but cut off contact when it became clear she would not appear on “The Apprentice.”

After Trump announced his candidacy for president, Daniels said her publicist suggested she could sell her story and put her in touch with Keith Davidson, a Hollywood lawyer who testified previously at the trial.

“My motivation wasn’t money, it was to get the story out,” Daniels said.

She said she entered into a non-disclosure agreement in October 2016 on the eve of the presidential election negotiated by Davidson and Cohen for which she was paid $130,000.

“I couldn’t tell my story, he couldn’t tell the story,” she said.

After a lunch break, Trump’s attorney Todd Blanche asked Judge Juan Merchan to declare a mistrial, objecting to some of Daniels’ testimony, particularly her claim that she was threatened in 2011 by a man in a Las Vegas parking garage who allegedly warned her not to talk about Trump.

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

Merchan denied the motion, saying “I don’t think we have reached a point where a mistrial is in order.”

Trump is under a partial gag order prohibiting him from publicly attacking witnesses, the jury or court staff.

Merchan has already fined him $10,000 for breaching the gag order and warned Trump he may face jail time for future violations.

(AFP)

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