Stormy Daniels’ tweets, Make America Horny Again, a failed mistrial bid: Takeaways from Trump trial day 14

Adult film start at centre of case stays calm and determined in face of combative questioning as her testimony concludes

Oliver O'Connell,Alex Woodward
Friday 10 May 2024 01:41 BST
Stormy Daniels excused from witness stand in Trump hush money trial

Another day in the Manhattan Criminal Court, another day of bombshell testimony.

Adult film star Stormy Daniels resumed — and concluded — her testimony on day 14 of Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial before the court heard from the woman known as the “gatekeeper” to the Oval Office in the early years of his administration.

There was also an attempt to at least partially lift the gag order on the former president and another run at a mistrial by the defence team. Amid all that was some unexpected celebrity namedropping, a revelation about who would be testifying, and a trip down memory lane to the “Make America Horny Again” strip club tour.

As with most days of the trial, Mr Trump left the courtroom and angrily lashed out at the judge to the assembled media.

Here are our top takeaways from the fourteenth day of testimony in the historic criminal trial of the former president:

‘Orange turd’ and ‘human toilet’ enter court records

You can’t make this up — in a portion of Ms Daniels’ testimony, Trump defence attorney Susan Necheles was referencing how the adult film star had reacted to attacks on Twitter.

Ms Necheles argued that Ms Daniels had said that she would be “instrumental” in putting Trump in jail.

“Show me where I said will be instrumental in putting Trump in jail,” Ms Daniels fired back.

She pulled up a tweet in which someone wrote: “Michael Cohen and Stormy Daniels aka THE HUMAN TOILET are their star witnesses.”

Ms Daniels replied in a post: “Exactly! Making me the best person to flush the orange turd down.”

“Pretty sure that it’s hyperbole, if someone calls me a toilet, that I can flush somebody,” Ms Daniels said, smirking throughout the exchange, before adding: “I’m also not a toilet.”

“I’m asking you what you mean when you said orange turd,” Ms Necheles said, suggesting she meant “President Trump”.

“I absolutely meant Mr Trump,” Ms Daniels stated, before accusing Ms Necheles of trying to put words in her mouth, “because it doesn’t say being instrumental” to jailing Trump.

Stormy Daniels during cross-examination at the criminal trial of Donald Trump
Stormy Daniels during cross-examination at the criminal trial of Donald Trump (REUTERS)

Make America Horny Again’

Readers might recall from our profile on Ms Daniels, that when the hush money story broke in early 2018, she was in the midst of the “Make America Horny Again” tour of strip clubs across the US.

“I did not name that tour and I fought it tooth and nail,” said Ms Daniels, noting that contracts were already in place.

Ms Necheles brought up a flyer with a photo of Ms Daniels and Mr Trump from the celebrity golf tournament at which they met, with the tagline “HE SAW HER LIVE. YOU CAN TOO!”

“I never reposted anything with this photo,” Ms Daniels said. “I never used that [Make America Horny Again] tagline. I hated it.”

Ms Necheles countered: “You were selling yourself to people who hated President Trump, as someone who could get President Trump indicted?”

“These are strip club patrons who are fans of my work,” Ms Daniels replied.

Other merchandise with which the defence accused her of using to cash in included a “Stormy of Saint Indictments” prayer candle.

“I got President Trump indicted?” Ms Daniels said, hand to her chest.

“Aren’t you bragging?” responded Ms Necheles.

“No, I think it’s funny that a store made those for me to sell.”

Asked if she made $40 per candle, Ms Daniels corrected the attorney that she only made $7.

Stormy Daniels stands her ground and defends her career

There were repeated attempts by the defence attorney to catch out Ms Daniels for differing accounts of her first meeting with Mr Trump between 2011 when an interview appeared in In Touch magazine, and her testimony on Tuesday.

Ms Daniels was adamant that her account was the same and only differed in the medium in which it appeared, noting about In Touch: “This is an entertainment magazine,” adding: “It is very fast and short … and an abbreviated entertaining version of the event. … It is minus some details. It is a short interview.”

Ms Necheles also tried to connect Ms Daniels’ career as a porn actor, writer, and director, with her account of the sexual encounter with Mr Trump.

Ms Daniels agreed that she has appeared in over 200 pornographic films – “including comps,” she added, before turning to the court reporter to annunciate: “Comp-i-la-tions.”

“This was your career for over 20 years, writing, acting, and directing sex films,” Ms Necheles asked. “You have a lot of experience making phoney stories about sex appear real, right?”

“Wow,” Ms Daniels said, pausing to laugh in the closest the trial has seen to a mic drop moment. “That’s not how I would put it. … The sex in those films is very much real just like in that hotel room.”

She added: “If that story was untrue, I would’ve written it better.”

Having been challenged about alleged inconsistencies, Ms Daniels remained calm and firm in her responses and was not moved by Ms Necheles’ attempts to undermine both her story and her livelihood.

At another point, Ms Necheles asked about how someone surrounded by naked men and naked women when she made movies could become light-headed and almost faint when she saw a man lying on a bed in a t-shirt and boxer shorts.

“When you’re not expecting a man twice your age, yes,” Ms Daniels fired back.

Later Ms Necheles said: “Your story has completely changed, hasn’t it?”

“No! Not at all,” Ms Daniels said. “You’re trying to make me change but it hasn’t changed.”

During her testimony on Thursday, Ms Daniels was especially firm about the fact that the sex was consensual and no substances were involved — clearing up any misconception regarding her testimony on Tuesday when she referred to blacking out while it happened.

Stormy Daniels leaves court after concluding her testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial
Stormy Daniels leaves court after concluding her testimony in Donald Trump’s hush money trial (AFP via Getty Images)

What is dinner? What is food?

In one of the more pedantic confrontations of Ms Daniels’ cross-examination, there was a debate about whether “dinner” implied food, or whether it was a time of day.

Ms Necheles brought up her testimony that she didn’t eat a meal when she met with Mr Trump for what was supposed to be a dinner date. She also told Jimmy Kimmel on his show in 2018 that they didn’t have anything to eat.

In the 2011 In Touch interview, she is quoted as saying: “We ended up having dinner in the room. I cannot remember what we ordered. I remember what I had the second time I had dinner with him but I can’t remember what we had.”

Ms Daniels never mentioned anything about food and said she was talking about dinner time, and that she would’ve mentioned what they ate.

It was another attempt by the defence to present inconsistencies as damning gotchas but Ms Daniels stood firm, answering matter-of-factly.

“We did not have any food, and we did not eat any food,” she said, laughing, “And I’ve maintained that in every interview, and that has not changed.”

There was an objection — sustained by Judge Merchan — when Ms Necheles countered: “Your words don’t mean what they say, do they?”

The defence attorney continued to try and argue that references to dinner were references to food that the witness could not remember consuming and not a reference to the time of day at which she was invited to join Mr Trump in his suite.

Ms Daniels said she would’ve remembered eating: “I’m very food motivated. I would’ve mentioned the food.”

Team Trump produces unexpected cameos and namedrops

In the apparent absence of any family members showing up at the courthouse in support of the former president, Team Trump today consisted of the legal team, Boris Epshteyn, legal adviser Alina Habba, as well as Florida Senator Rick Scott.

Mr Scott’s presence confused some as the Senate was in session in Washington, DC, and he looked set to miss a vote scheduled for the afternoon.

Speaking to media outside the court he incorrectly suggested that Judge Merchan’s gag order of the former president prevents him from campaigning. The reality is that being a criminal defendant is what is keeping him from the campaign trail as defendants must be present in court.

He also repeated the Trump line that if “they” can go after a former president, then “they” can go after you — which as legal observers have noted is the point of everyone being equal under the law.

When asked if the former president had requested Mr Scott to support him in court today, the Florida senator said: “No.”

Asked if his decision to join him was connected to the gag order, the senator said he came because he was “fed up”.

Also present — though as a member of the media — was Trump supporter Judge Jeanine Pirro of Fox News who told her viewers that the cross-examination was a “masterclass”, which does not appear to be a popular takeaway from the day.

Later on TV, she repeated the defence argument that if Ms Daniels can make up stories and direct them in her pornography, then that is what she is doing in court.

Even more unexpected, was the namedropping of celebrities and political figures by Madeleine Westerhout, Mr Trump’s former “gatekeeper” at the White House.

In January 2017, she asked Rhona Graff, a Trump Organization assistant to Mr Trump, for a list of names of people the new president regularly spoke with.

An Excel sheet arrived that included the Trump family, Trump Organization executive Allen Weisselberg, tennis star Serena Williams, TV personalities Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, Jeanine Pirro, and Joe Scarborough, National Enquirer editor David Pecker, NFL legend Tom Brady, Jerry Falwell, Bill Belichick, and Michael Cohen.

Quite a list.

Trump’s ‘gatekeeper’ cries

Ms Westerhout’s testimony was also notable in that she spoke fondly of her time working for the former president and began to cry.

The one-time guardian of the Oval Office who worked closely with Mr Trump every single day left the White House abruptly in 2018 after indiscreet remarks to journalists about the then-president’s family.

Mr Trump forgave her but she had to leave his employ. She subsequently wrote a book about her experience.

Her testimony focused on the administrative side of the Oval Office, including handling the checks that Mr Trump would sign and send back to the Trump Organization in New York.

Madeleine Westerhout cries during her testimony at Donald Trump’s hush money trial
Madeleine Westerhout cries during her testimony at Donald Trump’s hush money trial (REUTERS)

Judge denies gag order modification and another attempt at a mistrial

The day closed out with Judge Merchan denying both a modification of the gag order and another attempt at a mistrial ruling.

The former president’s legal team argued he should be able to respond to testimony from Ms Daniels since she was now off the stand.

Judge Merchan was concerned about “attacks” on Ms Daniels and other witnesses.

He added that he was also concerned with “protecting the integrity of these proceedings as a whole.”

The gag order seeks to protect witnesses, jurors, court staff and their families from attacks by the former president.

The judge also rejected the defence’s second attempt to declare a mistrial in the case, arguing – unsuccessfully – that Ms Daniels’ testimony was unfairly prejudicial.

Mr Blanche accused prosecutors of blowing a “dog whistle for rape” by allowing Ms Daniels to claim that Mr Trump did not wear a condom when they had sex.

“Blanche complains that the details are messy … Those details about what happened in that room, those messy details – that is motive, that is Mr Trump’s motive to silence this woman in 2016 less than a month before the election,” Assistant District Attorney Joshua Steinglass said.

“That is why Mr Trump tried so hard to prevent the American people from hearing about this.”

In response to the defence raising a motion regarding the potential testimony of 1998 Playboy playmate of the year Karen McDougal, the prosecution revealed that they would not be calling her to the witness stand. Ms McDougal had an alleged affair with Mr Trump and was paid for her silence in a “catch and kill” scheme.

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