'I never asked for money from President Trump': Stormy Daniels completes testimony

Stormy Daniels held her ground Thursday during an aggressive cross-examination by Donald Trump’s attorney in the former president’s criminal trial

US Court Reporter Phil Hirschkorn reports for ITV News from inside Donald Trump's New York trial.

Stormy Daniels held her ground Thursday during an aggressive cross-examination by Donald Trump’s attorney in the former president’s criminal trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments to Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Trump attorney Susan Necheles continually accused Daniels of changing and profiting from her story of “supposedly” having sex with Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel room in July 2006, a year-and-half after Trump, had married his third wife, former First Lady Melania Trump, and four months after she gave birth to their son, Barron.

Daniels testified, following their single sexual encounter, she last spoke to Trump in mid-2007, after seeing him in person on three other occasions - at a Trump Vodka launch party in Los Angeles, another visit to Los Angeles, and at his Trump Tower office in New York.

The case revolves around the $130,000 Daniels received in October 2016 to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) brokered by then-Trump attorney Michael Cohen, who paid Daniels himself but was reimbursed by Trump in 2017, according to prosecution evidence and testimony, in payments disguised as a monthly legal retainer.

“You have no personal knowledge about his involvement in that transaction, or what he did or did not do?” Trump defense attorney Susan Necheles asked Daniels.

“Not directly, no,” Daniels replied.

Necheles pressed Daniels about the NDA to buy her silence in the closing weeks of the campaign, which had just suffered a serious blow due to the release of the Access Hollywood tape revealing Trump talking cavalierly about grabbing women by their genitals.

“I never asked for money from President Trump,” Daniels testified. “I never asked for money from anyone in particular. I asked for money to tell my story.”

So, Necheles wondered, why did Daniels not simply hold a press conference in 2016?

“I chose to be safe,” Daniels said. “I chose to take the nondisclosure.”

The NDA was a way “to get my story protected with a paper trail,” Daniels explained, because publishing it would result in “a target on my back and my family’s.”

Former US president Donald Trump. Credit: AP

In addition to the NDA payment, since Daniels’ story became public in January 2018 with an article in the Wall Street Journal, Daniels contracted to receive $800,000 for a memoir, $200,000 to appear on a reality TV show, and $125,000 in video and book licensing fees for a documentary about her, she said.

“You continue to make money from selling a story that you promise will put President Trump in jail?” Necheles asserted.

Necheles tried to show inconsistencies in Daniel’s retellings, since 2011, of having “brief” intercourse with Trump, focusing on potentially minor differences in details – such as who invited her to dinner in his Lake Tahoe hotel suite (Trump or his bodyguard), how she got to Trump’s hotel, and whether they ate dinner.

“I was invited to dinner, but I never actually saw any food,” Daniels testified, as she wrote in her 2018 memoir, Full Disclosure.

“Your story has completely changed, hasn’t it?” Necheles asked at one point.

“No,” Daniels replied.

Casting aspersions on Daniels’ story, Necheles asked: "This supposed sexual encounter supposedly happened 18 years ago?”

She asked Daniels about her career as an actress in approximately 200 pornographic movies.

“You have a lot of experience making phony stories about sex appear to be real” Necheles said.

“Wow,” Daniels replied, and took a long pause. “That’s not how I would put it. The sex in the films is very much real just like what happened to me in that room,” referring to Trump’s hotel suite in Lake Tahoe.

As for the Trump encounter, she said, "If that story were untrue, I would have written it to be a lot better."

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Necheles zeroed in on the lack of documentary evidence of her interactions with Trump. The only photograph, snapped at the celebrity golf tournament they both attended in Lake Tahoe, showing Trump in a yellow golf shirt and red baseball cap “was one of just dozens of pictures you took with celebrities,” the defense attorney said.

But Daniels said there are other photos of her with Trump - at the Trump Vodka party and in his New York office, though they are not in evidence.

After Trump was indicted in March 2023, a Daniels’ tweet directed people to her online merchandise store.

“Also, don’t want to spill my champagne,” she wrote. Another tweet of hers promoted “in celebration of new indictments” a surprise gift with all sales of merchandise, such as a Stormy Saint of Indictments candle for $40 - she said she made $7 per sale and Daniels as a comic book hero with “political power.”

Necheles asked Daniels if she planned to keep making money selling her story.

“I plan to do my job and make money to pay my extraordinary legal bills,” Daniels replied.

She said her two next books are not about Trump; Rock Star-Porn Star is about her new partner, while the other is novel about a girl who grew up in New Orleans.

Necheles asked if the latter was about a girl who grows up to have sex with a presidential candidate. Daniels said it was not.

Daniels said she was not sure she understood the criminal charges against Trump stemming from her involvement with him.

“There are so many indictments,” she said, drawing laughter in the court’s overflow room.

“Business records?” she then said in an interrogative tone.

Stormy Daniels exits the courthouse at Manhattan criminal court in New York, Tuesday, May 7. Credit: AP

Trump faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records - the invoices, checks, and ledger entries covering up the Cohen reimbursement for the Daniels NDA.

Seated at the defence table on Thursday, Trump appeared the most attentive since the beginning of the trial, conferring with his lead attorney, Todd Blanche, and frequently looking at a screen displaying evidence, though at other times he sat with his eyes closed, as is his habit.

In the testimony, which began on Tuesday, Daniels withstood about eight hours of direct and cross-examination. The trial was not in session Wednesday.

On redirect examination, prosecutor Susan Hoffinger asked Daniels, “Have you been telling lies about Mr. Trump or telling the truth?

“The truth?” Daniels replied.

Hoffinger asked her if telling her story publicly has been “a net positive or net negative in your life?”

“Negative,” Daniels said.

A second woman who says Trump had an extramarital affair with her and was paid for her silence, Karen McDougal, will not testify at this trial, it emerged on Thursday. McDougal, a former Playboy model who says she was romantically involved with Trump for 10 months from 2006 to 2007, was on the witness list. American Media, Inc., owner of the National Enquirer supermarket tabloid, paid McDougal $150,000 for the rights to her story in the summer of 2016 only to kill it, as a favor to Trump, according to trial testimony and evidence. Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche intended to argue a motion to preclude McDougal from testifying but withdrew it, telling the court Thursday prosecutors had informed him she won't be called to the stand.

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