Stormy Daniels gives graphic account of Trump encounter at criminal trial

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Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor, took the stand on Tuesday morning at Donald Trump’s criminal “hush money” trial in Manhattan, setting the stage for a day of testimony that could prove highly embarrassing for the former president.

The 45-year-old, who was paid $130,000 in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election to stay quiet about an alleged sexual encounter with Trump, was called just after 10.30am local time, and began by recounting how she had grown up in a “very low income” family in Louisiana before discovering she could make money in the adult entertainment industry.

Trump is charged with falsifying the business records behind the payments. The presumptive Republican nominee for president, who had married his third wife Melania a year prior to the alleged encounter, has always denied any romantic involvement with Daniels.

Prosecutors have alleged that Trump directed his ex-fixer Michael Cohen to pay off Daniels because he was concerned the revelations would cost him the 2016 election, and that the transactions therefore amount to an attempt to “corrupt” the democratic process.

Earlier on Tuesday, Trump fumed that he had “just recently been told” about the next witness, in a Truth Social post that was deleted soon thereafter. The 77-year-old has been warned by the trial judge that he would be jailed if he continued to flout a court-imposed gag order by attacking witnesses and the jurors seated for the trial.

On his way into court, Trump continued to rail against the case, claiming it had originated “from the White House”.

“It’s all Biden because it’s an attack on his political opponent that hasn’t happened in this country,” Trump said. “The trial is a very unfair trial, a very very unfair trial. The good news is they have nothing.”

Trump was joined in court by his son Eric and close adviser Boris Epshteyn, in addition to his legal team.

Before Daniels took the stand, Trump’s lawyers objected to the prosecution being allowed to elicit lurid details of sex acts from the porn actor, claiming such evidence would be “unduly prejudicial”. Justice Juan Merchan said he agreed that the witness had “credibility issues” but allowed questioning on the broad details of her alleged encounter.

Trump’s lawyers had sought to preclude Daniels from appearing in court at all, arguing that she would use the event to “monetise” her story. Their requests were denied.

Daniels first denied the affair, and then broke a non-disclosure agreement signed after the Cohen payments when she went public about the encounter while Trump was president.

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