May 9, 2024

Stormy Daniels

Stormy Daniels took the witness stand on Tuesday at Donald Trump’s criminal trial and described in lurid detail her alleged 2006 sexual encounter with the former U.S. president…

“Daniels made clear on the witness stand that she did not decline what she described as Trump’s sexual advances in the penthouse hotel suite where he had invited her to meet for dinner. But she said she ‘blacked out’ before finding herself on the bed with no clothes on, though she said she had not consumed drugs or alcohol. She said Trump had dangled a role on his reality television show before making advances…

“Trump’s lawyers asked Justice Juan Merchan to declare a mistrial, arguing [the lurid] details served only to ‘inflame’ the jury. Merchan denied the mistrial request, but urged prosecutors to limit Daniels' testimony.” Reuters

Here’s our previous coverage of the trial. The Flip Side

See past issues

From the Left

The left argues that Daniels’s testimony was necessary, as it shows how her story might have influenced the 2016 election if it had been made public.

“Even more than the prurient particulars, Daniels’ testimony posed a problem by suggesting her alleged encounter with Trump was in some sense coercive. Although she testified repeatedly that she was not forced to have sex with the defendant, she also noted his greater physical size, the unbalanced power dynamic between them and her care to keep their subsequent encounters public…

“From the vantage point of the prosecution, the legal essentials of the hush money payment and alleged fabrication of documents don’t turn on whether the jury believes Daniels…

“Indeed, a number of analysts suggested the district attorney would have been better off not calling her at all. What that analysis overlooks, however, is the jury’s natural desire to take the measure of the woman who propelled the crisis and about whom they had heard so much. Not calling her risked leaving them wondering what the prosecution was hiding.”

Harry Litman, Los Angeles Times

“[Her testimony] makes clear that it was a story that—had it come out in the days after the release of the Access Hollywood tape prior to the 2016 election—might have made a difference in a race that was decided by some 120,000-plus votes in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Pennsylvania. So damning—and, contrary to the judge’s instructions, detailed—was the account Stormy gave that upon returning from lunch, Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche asked the court for a mistrial.”

Jeremy Stahl, Slate

Others argue, “Ms. Daniels was not always consistent in her testimony. She insisted, for example, that she was not motivated by money and only wanted to tell her story, a less-than-convincing claim given her decision to accept Mr. Trump’s payoff to keep her mouth shut. Mr. Trump’s lawyers took every opportunity they could to highlight these inconsistencies and poke holes in Ms. Daniels’s credibility…

“Remember, the prosecution needs all 12 jurors to agree to convict; the defense needs only one to disagree to produce a hung jury and thus a mistrial. So far, the prosecutors have presented a very strong case centered on financial documents and testimony from the people who helped Mr. Trump arrange the payoff. But they have also had to do a lot of explaining about how it all fits together and why it all matters…

“Now, with the most garish part of the case front and center, it’s not so hard to imagine one or more jurors throwing up their hands and letting the tabloids sort it out.”

Jesse Wegman, New York Times

From the Right

The right argues that Daniels’s testimony was inflammatory and irrelevant to the actual crime being charged, and that it should not have been allowed.

The right argues that Daniels’s testimony was inflammatory and irrelevant to the actual crime being charged, and that it should not have been allowed.

“The indictment accuses Trump of falsifying business records… Daniels never spoke to Trump about the payments or the non-disclosure agreement she signed or whether it was intended to help his campaign. She had access to none of the invoices reflecting reimbursements to Cohen. But prosecutors wanted her on the witness stand to drag the accused through the mud…

Calling Daniels to the stand was wholly unnecessary… Relevant evidence must be excluded ‘if its probative value is outweighed by the danger that its admission would create undue prejudice to a party’ (NY Rules of Evidence, 4.06). Here, the prejudice to Trump is manifest and immense, and the testimony itself has almost no probative value whatsoever.”

Gregg Jarrett, Fox News

“The most maddening moment for the defense came at the lunch break, when Merchan stated, ‘I agree that it would have been better if some of these things had been left unsaid.’ He then denied a motion for a mistrial based on the testimony and blamed the defense for not objecting more. That, of course, ignores the standing objection of the defense to Daniels even appearing, and specific objections to the broad scope allowed by the court…

“Merchan said he is considering a limiting instruction for the jury to ignore aspects of the testimony. But that is little comfort for the defendant. The court was told that this would happen, it happened, and now the court wants to ask the jury to pretend that it did not happen. Merchan knows there is no way for the jury to unhear the testimony. More importantly, the prosecution knew that from the outset.”

Jonathan Turley, New York Post

“Judge Merchan is supposed to balance the evidentiary value of testimony against its potential to unfairly prejudice the jury against the defendant. Will jurors be disposed against Mr. Trump now, before they even get to the business records? A New York court recently overturned the conviction of Harvey Weinstein on grounds that the trial judge unfairly let the DA introduce inadmissible testimony that prejudiced jurors…

“Prosecutors could have sought the minimum needed to establish Ms. Daniels’s story, but instead they asked for needless specifics, and the judge allowed it. It’s easy to believe the prosecution’s goal was as much to humiliate Mr. Trump before voters as it was to sway the jury that Mr. Trump is a sexual predator… Mr. Trump may still be convicted by the jury in heavily Democratic Manhattan. But the odds are growing that a conviction would be overturned on appeal.”

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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