This case, which at its core is a false documents case, could have been fully proven without Stormy Daniels’ testimony, but her retelling of what happened in her relationship with Donald Trump was something the prosecution wanted the jury to hear to understand why Trump was so motivated to pay her off to stop her from telling her story right after the Access Hollywood tape came out and before voters went to the polls.

Daniel’s testimony matters on two fronts. The first is the jury trial itself where Trump could be found guilty. The second is the political realm where Trump is desperate to win re-election and avoid the other three pending criminal cases Trump has been able to delay so far. Stormy Daniels’ testimony matters to Trump even more in the political realm because if he does not return to the White House he will end up in a jail house.

In 2016 Trump wanted and today he still needs enough voters to believe he is a family man and that he and Melania are the perfect husband and wife so that he can keep his superman image with his all important base voters, especially evangelicals. If Stormy Daniels is credible, her story exposes the authentic Trump, not the fairytale version- a man whose wife doesn’t even sleep with him, a sleazy dude who takes advantage of young women, a cringeworthy self-centered womanizer. If the jury finds Daniels credible, it becomes clear why Trump was so desperate to shut her up in 2016 and is still desperate to disprove her story in 2024.


The following basic information came out in her testimony:

Ms. Daniels described meeting Mr. Trump at the golf event and accepting his dinner invitation after her publicist said: “What could possibly go wrong?”

When she met him at his hotel suite, Trump was wearing (silk) pajamas.  She asked him to change. They discussed the porn industry, and he asked about residuals, unions and S.T.D. testing.

They talked for two hours. Trump talked about himself a lot.

She said they talked about his family, including his daughter, whom he likened to Ms. Daniels — “People underestimate her as well,” Ms. Daniels recalled him saying. They also discussed his wife; Mr. Trump said they did not “even sleep in the same room.” He suggested Ms. Daniels might appear on “The Apprentice.”

This was something Trump dangled to get Daniels to give him the sexual encounter he wanted. She went into the bathroom and when she came out…

 Mr. Trump (was) partially undressed, she said. It was obvious what he wanted. The sex was consensual, she said, but there was a power “imbalance.” (NYT) 

Daniels reported feeling a state of dissociation while she was having sex with Trump. She clearly wasn’t enjoying it.

But the relationship between the two of them continued after this sexual encounter with Trump dangling the idea that she could be on The Apprentice. In some of their conversations she put Trump on speakerphone so that other friends heard them talking. Their continued relationship did not include continuing sexual relations. Once Trump decided she would not be on The Apprentice, Daniels ended the relationship.

After that, over time, Stormy Daniels became an outspoken critic of Trump. The two of them have had a social media vendetta in which they have attacked each other. Trump has called her “horseface” and claims she made up the sexual encounter. Stormy has called Trump an orange turd in her social media attacks on him.


The prosecution began their direct exam by humanizing Stormy Daniels. We learn that she went to a strict Christian school and did well there academically. She had wanted to be a vet but never realized that dream. She was raised by a mother who abandoned her when she was a teen-ager. There was no mention of drugs but the mother was clearly inadequate and Daniels was left to fend for herself at 17. She was very attractive which probably caused her to gravitate to the modeling industry where she could make enough money to be self-sustaining especially if she would do nude photos which eventually got her into adult films. She is now a film director for these kinds of films and she hoped to be taken seriously for her work. After we learned more about Stormy Daniels’ past, the prosecutor focused on what happened between Daniels and Trump.

What Daniels described was a predatory experience with a sleazy old man.  In her description of the incident, Trump acted a lot like Harvey Weinstein did with young, ambitious women. At the time she first met Trump, Daniels was 27 and Trump was, she guessed, about 60. They met at a golf event at Lake Tahoe. Trump’s bodyguard asked her if she would go to dinner with Trump. Her first reaction was expletive NO. But her publicist said she should accept because it would make a great story, adding “What could possibly go wrong?” (Which resulted in laughter in the courtroom.)

When Daniels came to his hotel suite to “go to dinner” it was immediately clear what Trump’s intentions were because he was wearing “either silk or satin pajamas” when she arrived. Daniels quipped “Does Hugh Hefner know you stole his pjs?” and “I told him to go change.” They spent about two hours talking about a variety of things including the adult film industry: the scripts, payments to actors, and (most pointedly) whether there were STDs among the actors. She told him the industry required strict condom use even between married actors. Trump was very interested in this. Given Trump’s concern about exposure to germs that conversation snippet was consistent with what other people have reported about Trump.

One of the cringey moments Daniels reported was that Trump told her “you remind me of my daughter”, which is something he also said to Karen McDougal with whom he also had an affair. Trump has also said he was attracted to his daughter, Ivanka, other interviews.  That upped the ICK factor about Trump and reminded the jury about his character.

Daniels also recounted that Trump said he and Melania don’t sleep in the same room which Karen McDougal also knew about Trump.

In describing their two hour conversation, Daniels reacted to Trump’s constant interruptions. “He would ask me a question and not let me finish.” “Are you always this rude?” she asked. Then she said, “Someone should spank you with that” (referring to a rolled up magazine with Trump’s image on the cover). She swatted him on the butt with the rolled up magazine. This action on her part may have been some of the gratuitous information that the judge later commented should have been kept from the jury. She was also being sexually playful with Trump which led to what she said happened next. She went to the bathroom and when she exited Trump was there, blocking her exit and he had stripped down to his boxers and T-shirt.

Daniels did not claim that Trump physically threatened her to get her to have sex with him. The leverage Trump had was that he could give her a chance to be on The Apprentice and he also assured her he would give her the answers (help her cheat to do better on the show).

As for the intercourse, Daniels expressed annoyance that Trump didn’t use a condom because she had been clear about how important that was to her. Daniels said she felt a sense of “dissociation” almost like she was not in her body during the sex act with him.

Despite having what could only be described as an icky sexual experience with Trump, she continued a relationship with him, only ending it when he decided not to have her on The Apprentice.


Stormy Daniels as a witness on direct exam spoke very fast and exposed a lot of revealing details. She may have been nervous but she also came off as feisty. Her answers at first went beyond the questions asked on direct, but after being instructed to just answer the questions asked, she complied and answered more briefly.  On cross examination she bested the attorney representing Trump numerous times.

For example, when the defense attorney on cross exam pointedly said, “You engaged in extortion, didn’t you!” she adamantly replied with one word: “NO!”

On the second day of cross-examination, Daniels held her ground again.

“You made all this up, right?” Necheles asked Daniels at one point. She responded with an emphatic: “No.”

 Asked by the defense if her account of sleeping with Trump was like “fictional stories” she memorized for work, Daniels replied:

  • “If that story was untrue, I would’ve written it to be a lot better.”


Trump has insisted that there was NO sexual encounter with Daniels at all.

Because he insists on that, his attorneys have to defend the case in a way that opens the door to allowing in testimony from Stormy Daniels that would prove and lend credibility to her assertion that there WAS a sexual encounter. Stormy Daniel’s testimony was credible and explicit from the description of his hotel suite to details about what he was wearing, the color and design of the floor, to the information about  their continued relationship including a meeting at Trump Tower that could easily be corroborated and verified.

Stormy Daniels enrages Trump and it was clear from the way Trump’s defense attorney, Susan Necheles, handled the cross examination of Daniels, that Trump had told her to aggressively attack Daniels with the goal of breaking her and her story down. On cross examination Susan Necheles, attacked Daniels over and over again, slut shaming her for her profession and denigrating her for her career in adult films. She engaged in what’s called “badgering the witness”. Daniels responded by fighting back. This went on for 7 plus hours. That cross exam likely created sympathy for Stormy Daniels and antipathy to Trump.


Daniels’ information about Trump became dangerous for him after the Access Hollywood tape aired and before the election of 2016. This was during a time when a number of women came out of the woodwork saying they too had had some kind of sexual relations with Trump. Daniels’ story became valuable to catch and kill because Trump wanted to win the election and this was a pretty gross, cringeworthy story that she had the power to tell about him. It might have ended his run for president back then because so many donors were turned off and Trump was trying to court the evangelical vote.

Daniels ended up signing the NDA and getting $130,000 to do so.

We now know that this turn of events also happened because David Pecker refused to be “the bank” anymore since Trump was too cheap to repay him for paying off Karen McDougal and the doorman. Pecker’s refusal meant Michael Cohen got stuck coming up with the money and lying to the bank about it which created false financial records. And then Trump paid Cohen back with checks that falsely claimed were for legal work when they were in fact reimbursement payments to hush up Stormy Daniels with the goal of helping Trump get elected. The campaign finance false documents exposed Trump to this 34 count criminal indictment.

The impression Stormy Daniels made on the jury is hard to know. She is a self-serving woman and she is also a survivor. To survive she probably had to learn to be self-serving and take advantage of whatever opportunities she could including trading sex for a chance to be on The Apprentice.


What impression did her testimony about Trump have with the jury? There was big ICK factor. Trump comes off as the archetypal sleazeball guy who takes advantage of women and expects to get away with it. Daniels portrays Trump as self-centered and boorish. It’s not like this information about Trump’s character is new. But hearing it from this ballsy woman sure made it come alive.

This is the story Americans were deprived of because Trump shut it down right before the election in 2016.  Would it have made a difference in the way you voted? The way other Americans voted? What do you think?