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Stormy Plays It Cool As Trump Team Digs Deep

Defence lawyer Susan Necheles grilled Daniels Thursday, comparing her earlier testimonies of the encounter with versions in a book she wrote and interviews she gave over the years. Daniels remained defiant.
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NEW YORK: Donald Trump’s lawyers questioned porn star Stormy Daniels’ accounts of an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with the former President on Thursday.

Stormy Daniels’ unflattering account of her 2006 sexual encounter with Trump in a Lake Tahoe hotel suite riveted jurors on Tuesday. It also reminded U.S. voters of the lurid aspects of his 2017-2021 presidency. He is campaigning to return to the White House this year.

Daniels’ story of the alleged encounter has been public since 2018, and it may not matter much to voters who have already heard other stories of Trump’s alleged sexual misbehaviour.

In nearly four hours of cross-examination on Tuesday and Thursday in the New York Court, defence lawyer Susan Necheles grilled Daniels, comparing her earlier testimonies of the encounter with versions in a book she wrote and interviews she gave over the years.

“You made all this up, right?” Necheles asked Daniels at one point.

“No,” Daniels said emphatically, sitting with her hands folded and legs crossed. She said she didn’t give every detail in each interview, and didn’t control which portions of her accounts were published.

“You’re trying to make me say that it changed, but it hasn’t changed,” Daniels said.

Trump, 77, wearing a suit and a light blue tie, switched between leaning forward and looking at a small computer monitor on the defense table displaying evidence, and looking directly at Daniels while his lawyer questioned Daniels’ story.

The former President is is charged with 34 counts of falsifying business records to cover up his former lawyer Michael Cohen’s $130,000 payment to Daniels, 45, for her silence ahead of the 2016 election about the alleged encounter. Trump has pleaded not guilty and denies ever having sex with Daniels.

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Just before ending her cross-examination, Necheles asked Daniels if she had knowledge of Trump’s business records – part of an effort to paint her testimony as irrelevant to the charges at hand.

“I know nothing about his business records, no, why would I?” Daniels said.

Daniels, wearing a black cardigan over a green dress, remained defiant in the face of Necheles’ aggressive questioning and frequently snapped back at her with witty retorts.

Necheles sought to show Daniels had profited off of her story, showing jurors Daniels’ social media posts advertising merchandise on her online store around the time Trump had been charged last year.

“That is me doing my job,” Daniels said.

Trump’s lawyers unsuccessfully sought a mistrial on Tuesday saying that she had “inflamed” the jury with unnecessary details about the alleged encounter like claiming that Trump did not use a condom.

Daniels’ testimony on Tuesday clearly frustrated Trump, who at one point appeared to call it “bullshit,” drawing a warning about witness intimidation from Justice Juan Merchan.

Merchan has fined Trump $10,000 for talking about jurors and witnesses in the trial and warned that further violations of a gag order that is in place could land him in jail.

The case is widely seen as the least consequential of the four criminal prosecutions Trump faces. But the chances of the other three – which stem from efforts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Biden and his handling of classified documents – going to trial before the election are growing more distant.