Key takeaways from Stormy Daniels' testimony in Trump hush money trial

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump paid porn actor Stormy Daniels for her silence before the 2016 election. Now he’s forced to confront her testimony about their alleged sexual encounter in the midst of another presidential campaign.

Daniels took the witness stand Tuesday in his hush money criminal trial, putting the presumptive Republican presidential nominee face-to-face with the woman whose story he tried to bury years ago. Trump denies having sex with her.

It’s the biggest spectacle yet in the first criminal trial of a former American president, now in its third week of testimony in Manhattan.

Here are some takeaways from Daniels’ testimony so far:


Daniels is at the center of the case because she was paid $130,000 in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign to keep quiet about what she says was an awkward and unexpected sexual encounter with Trump a decade before. He says the encounter never happened.

Prosecutors say Trump paid Daniels as part of a scheme to illegally influence the 2016 campaign by burying negative stories about him. His lawyers have sought to show that Trump was trying to protect his reputation and family — not his campaign — by shielding them from embarrassing stories about his personal life.

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she grew up poor in Louisiana and originally wanted to become a veterinarian. She danced ballet growing up and got into exotic dancing when she was in high school, she testified.

Daniels told jurors that she began appearing in adult films at age 23 and soon began working behind the camera as well, eventually directing more than 150 films and winning a roster of porn industry awards.


Daniels testified about first meeting Trump in 2006 at a celebrity golf outing in Lake Tahoe. The adult film studio she worked for at the time sponsored one of the holes on the golf course.

Daniels testified that she saw Trump again after the golf round in what was known as the “gift room,” an area where the celebrity golfers collected gift bags and swag. There, she said, he remembered her as “the smart one,” and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner. Trump’s bodyguard took her number, she told jurors.

Daniels said she accepted Trump’s invitation because she wanted to get out of a planned dinner with her adult film company colleagues, some of whom she “didn’t want to be around — catfights,” she said with a chuckle.

She said her then-publicist suggested in a phone call that Trump’s invitation was a good excuse to duck the work dinner and would “make a great story” and perhaps help her career.

“What could possibly go wrong?” she recalled the publicist saying.


Trump didn’t show dramatic changes in his behavior as Daniels took the stand, but there were signs of what appeared to be discomfort from the former president and current presidential candidate hearing testimony about his alleged extramarital sexual encounter.

The former president started the day by posting a comment—and later deleting it–on his social media network complaining that he’d “just recently been told who the witness is today” and falsely said his lawyers had no time to prepare. He’s under a gag order that prevents him from commenting publicly on witnesses, jurors and some others connected to the case.

When Daniels entered the courtroom, Trump stared ahead and turned his head slightly in her direction, then looked at her as she walked to the witness stand. He whispered frequently to his attorney as she began to testify. Trump later wore what seemed to be a pained expression as she recounted details about the dinner she says they shared, muttering at times to lawyers on either side of him.


Before Daniels took the stand, Trump’s lawyers tried to stop her from testifying about the details of her alleged sexual encounter with Trump, saying it was irrelevant in “a case about books and records.”

Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger countered that the details wee important to buttress Daniels’ credibility, which the defense has questioned. The prosecutor assured Judge Juan Merchan that the description of the alleged sexual act would be “really basic,” and would not “involve any details of genitalia.”

At one point, Merchan admonished the prosecutor about the “degree of detail” she was eliciting from Daniels, saying there was no need to get into the design of the floor in the hotel room or the various subjects covered in her conversation with Trump.

“The degree of detail that we’re going into here is just unnecessary,” Merchan said.

Trump’s son Eric, who was with his father in court on Tuesday, slammed the proceeding in a post on X, accusing prosecutors of being “giddy by this salacious show.”

“Sitting front row attempting to figure out how any of this garbage from 20 years ago relates to ‘legal’ bills submitted by a long time personal attorney being booked as a ‘legal’ expense,'” he wrote.

Daniels took the stand a day after testimony that was more mechanical but just as key to prosecutors’ case: a recitation from former Trump Organization controller Jeffrey McConney of how the company reimbursed payments that were allegedly meant to suppress embarrassing stories from surfacing during Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. They were logged as legal expenses in a way that Manhattan prosecutors say broke the law.


Whitehurst reported from Washington. Associated Press writers Michael Sisak, Jennifer Peltz, Jake Offenhartz and Alanna Durkin Richer contributed to this story.

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