Updates to our Terms of Use

We are updating our Terms of Use. Please carefully review the updated Terms before proceeding to our website.

Tuesday, June 25, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

‘I was ashamed:’ Stormy Daniels testifies about having sex with Donald Trump

Daniels says she had sex with Trump while he was married in 2006. Prosecutors claim Trump tried to cover that up a decade later when he ran for president.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Stormy Daniels, the former porn star at the center of Donald Trump’s criminal case, told the court Tuesday that she had a sexual encounter with Trump just months after the birth of his youngest son, Barron.

Prosecutors called Daniels, whose government name is Stephanie Clifford, to the stand just before 10:30 a.m. She recounted having a roughly two-hour conversation with Trump in 2006 that led to them having sex. As she spoke, Trump’s son Eric sat just behind his father, eyes locked forward.

“You remind me of my daughter because she is smart and blonde and beautiful,” Daniels recalled Trump, who is more than 30 years her senior, telling her.

Daniels said she met Trump during a celebrity golf tournament at Lake Tahoe, which she attended on behalf of her adult film company. At the time, she was writing, directing and acting in porn shoots.

“You actually direct, too? You must be the smart one,” Trump remarked, according to Daniels' testimony.

Daniels said Trump, via his bodyguard, invited her to dinner later that day. At first, she said she wasn’t interested. But she changed her mind at the advice of her publicist, who suggested that dining with the real estate mogul would be good for her career.

So she made her way to Trump's hotel room, Daniels testified, where they had a lengthy conversation that teetered on awkward at times. They discussed the business of the adult film industry and Trump’s stint in the WWE, among other topics.

Eventually, Daniels said, she asked Trump about his wife, Melania.

“We actually don’t even sleep in the same room,” Trump said, according to Daniels.

At one point, Daniels said she grew annoyed at Trump's “arrogance and cutting me off” to talk about himself.

Daniels said that things escalated when she went to the bathroom, only to emerge to Trump laying on the hotel bed in his boxers.

“I wasn’t expecting someone to be there, especially minus a lot of clothing,” she said. “The next thing I know, I was on the bed.”

Daniels was careful to clarify that she was not physically or verbally threatened by Trump, nor was she under the influence of any drugs or alcohol. Throughout the encounter, she said she never told Trump “no.”

“I didn’t say anything at all,” she said.

In the months following the incident, Daniels said she didn’t tell many people about sleeping with Trump — including her boyfriend, whom she started seeing after the fact. “I was ashamed,” she said.

Over Trump’s lawyers' objections, many of which were sustained by the judge, Daniels started to detail the specifics of the “brief” sexual encounter. Throughout Daniels’ testimony, New York Supreme Court Justice Juan Merchan kept prosecutors on a short leash, careful not to wade into any “unnecessary” details that could prejudice Trump.

Still, Trump’s lawyers complained after Tuesday’s lunch break that the testimony was “unduly and inappropriately prejudicial” to their client. They moved for a mistrial, claiming that Daniels included certain salacious details to “embarrass” Trump.

“This is the kind of testimony that makes it impossible to come back from,” Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche said.

Merchan conceded that Daniels was “a little difficult to control,” but smacked down the defense attorneys' effort.

“There were things that would have been better left unsaid,” Merchan said. “Having said that, I don’t believe we’re at the point where a mistrial is warranted.”

The judge added that he sustained most of the defense’s objections during Daniels’ testimony, and said he was surprised they hadn't objected more if they were so concerned about the content.

“The defense has to take some responsibility for that,” Merchan said. He advised Trump's team to address the subject of their objections on cross examination.

Trump’s attorney Susan Necheles tried to do just that. She grilled Daniels on Tuesday afternoon for being inconsistent in her recollection of events over the past two decades. At times, Necheles’ cross was scattered, met with numerous sustained objections and once by aid from the judge to frame a question properly.

Necheles sought to portray Daniels as a vindictive opportunist who merely spread a scandalous story for two reasons: money and distaste for Trump.

“Am I correct that you hate President Trump?” Necheles asked.

“Yes,” Daniels said emphatically.

Still, Daniels held firm that her decision to start talking about her encounter with Trump was not a shallow extortion effort, but a response to him running for president and her being free from a yearslong nondisclosure agreement.

Trump is being accused of orchestrating a hush-money payment to Daniels to keep her from telling the story. Prosecutors say Trump asked his then-lawyer Michael Cohen to make the payment then disguised his reimbursements as standard legal fees.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg asserts the incident was part of a broader scheme from Trump to quash negative press during his 2016 presidential run. He indicted Trump last year on 34 counts of falsifying business records.

Trump pleaded not guilty to the charges, and denies having an extramarital affair with Daniels.

Before arriving in court Tuesday morning, Trump posted to Truth Social that his lawyers were given “no time to prepare” for today’s witness. 

“No judge has ever run a trial in such a biased and partisan way,” Trump added.

Trump, who has already been found in contempt for violating the court’s gag order ten times, deleted the Truth Social post before the proceedings started on Tuesday.

Prosecutors on Tuesday called an additional witness prior to Daniels: Sally Franklin, vice president of the Penguin Random House publishing group, testified as a custodial witness to confirm excerpts from some of Trump’s books.

Prosecutors presented the clips in order to paint Trump as a frugal businessman who certainly would have been privy to a hush-money scheme being carried out by his subordinates. 

“Every dollar counts in business, and for that matter every dime,” Trump wrote in his 2004 book "How to Get Rich," which Franklin read aloud in court. “Penny pinching? You can bet I’m all for it.”

With trial dark on Wednesdays, Daniels is expected to return to the witness stand Thursday.

Read daily transcripts of the Trump hush-money criminal trial here. Note there is a delay of several days before new transcripts are posted.

Follow @Uebey
Categories / Criminal, Politics

Subscribe to Closing Arguments

Sign up for new weekly newsletter Closing Arguments to get the latest about ongoing trials, major litigation and hot cases and rulings in courthouses around the U.S. and the world.