Trump Trial: Stormy Spills, Donald Scowls and Everyone Wants to Watch

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NEW YORK — As a reminder, the criminal case involving former president Donald Trump isn’t about sex. But when former porn star Stormy Daniels showed up in the courtroom on Tuesday to give testimony about the $130,000 payment to buy her silence, sex was hard to avoid.

Somewhere between the condoms and the “missionary” position and her spanking Trump at the dinner table, even Judge Juan Merchan had to warn her and her lawyers.

“We are going into way too much detail,” he said while Trump, a few feet away, glared.

But there was never going to be a way to totally avoid the sleaze factor in this trial.

Tuesday was a landmark day for spectacle at the Manhattan Criminal Court when it was revealed early that the 45-year-old former adult actress would take the stand. Prosecutors have kept the witness list secret until the last moment to avoid retribution from the former president or his supporters.

Once the news was released, reporters and onlookers frantically rushed to 100 Center Street in downtown Manhattan.

Other big names who have covered the trial on a daily basis and were in the courthouse include The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins and Trump author-gladhander Michael Wolff.

The 77-year-old former president and presumptive 2024 GOP nominee has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records related to the hush money payment made to Daniels for her silence ahead of the 2016 election. He has denied having an affair with Daniels in Lake Tahoe in 2006.

On Tuesday, her testimony said otherwise.

Outside of the court, more than 100 people had lined up overnight to get in. Inside, there were about 48 seats available for the public, depending on media attendance. A few had slept there overnight. John DeFelice, 65, from Bergen County, New Jersey, arrived at 4:15 a.m. on Tuesday to get in line for a front row seat.

Donald Trump, Court
Donald Trump in court (Photo by Getty)

DeFelice, a software engineer, told TheWrap, “This is an historic event, and the possibility of witnessing it personally is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Many in the public line were anti-Trump. Don Muccigrosso, from Brooklyn, told TheWrap, “Trump is the worst thing that has happened to America since the Civil War.”

The circus that Trump was hoping for has not emerged. Despite calling on supporters to rally across from the courthouse at Collect Pond Park, few gathered on Tuesday.

Trump had falsely claimed that police had turned away “thousands” of people from protesting his trial, writing on Truth Social on April 23, “Thousands of people were turned away from the Courthouse in Lower Manhattan by steel stanchions and police, literally blocks from the tiny side door from where I enter and leave. It is an armed camp to keep people away.”

But witnesses, including a reporter from TheWrap, say no such crowds have been seen.

Nancy Yan, originally from China but who has been living in New York for 24 years, was the sole Trump fan waving a flag outside the court. She told TheWrap, “Elect Trump in 2024. He will make America great again.”

Trump trial
Trump supporters outside his trial on Tuesday (Photo by Emily Smith)

The storm was brewing

Inside the courtroom, tension was high. Dressed conservatively in a black shell with a sweater, wearing glasses and with her long, blonde hair half-clasped behind her head, Daniels seemed nervous on the stand. She spoke rapidly and used her hands to explain situations as the prosecutor begged her to slow down so the official court reporter could log her comments.

A furious Trump – who was seen mouthing, “bulls**t!” – was forced to sit there and glower as Daniels laid out the sordid details of their alleged affair. Earlier he had complained on his Truth Social network (in a post he then deleted) that he and his legal team were not aware that Daniels would take the stand.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Merchan later pulled aside Trump’s lawyer Todd Blanche — saying the ex-president was “cursing audibly” and “shaking his head visually,” and warning he needed to stop or be held in contempt for possibly influencing the jury.

Daniels elicited a gasp in the courtrooms by alleging Trump, before they had sex, told her about his relationship with former First Lady Melania. “Not to worry. We don’t even sleep in the same room,” she testified that he said.

As she made the statement on the witness stand, Trump looked in Daniels’ direction, and shook his head. Melania has so far not come to her husband’s historic trial.

If she’s paying attention at all, Tuesday was probably one of her least favorite days, wherever she is.

Trump’s attorney’s begged for a mistrial following Daniels’ testimony after lunchtime on Tuesday, claiming it was too salacious, but Judge Merchan denied the request.

Laughs in the court

Daniels did her best to keep it light. She met Trump, she said, at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. To giggles from the public audience, she described how, when Trump invited her to dinner in 2006 via his security guard, she agreed, because, “What could possibly go wrong?”

When she arrived at his hotel penthouse suite, she described how Trump was wearing satin pajamas. She said she told him, “Does Mr. Hefner know you stole his pajamas?” He went to his bedroom and changed into a dress shirt and trousers, she testified.

She described that before they had sex, “I’d had enough of his arrogance,” with laughs from the public and the reporters in the overflow room.

Those inside the main courtroom said jurors struggled to keep a straight face as Daniels described spanking the former president while still at the dinner table. “I told him to turn around and swatted him.”

But the members of the jury didn’t react when Daniels went on to recount having sex with Trump on the hotel bed “in the missionary position.”

There were a number of objections from the defense regarding Daniels’ comments about Trump’s use (or rather non-use) of condoms and the sexual position.

Sitting behind his father, Trump’s second son Eric wasn’t satisfied either. He wrote on X, “Perspective: Sitting front row attempting to figure out how any of this garbage from 20 years ago relates to ‘legal’ bills submitted by a long time personal attorney being booked as a ‘legal’ expense — but I digress.

“To be clear, they don’t give a s**t about the merits of this case — the 15 Manhattan prosecutors are sitting at their table and behind in the courthouse pews, giddy by this salacious show. This is the intent, not the merits, nor the fact that this entire case is a massive extortion play.”

No cameras

Media outside the Trump trial (Photo by Emily Smith)
Media outside the Trump trial (Photo by Emily Smith)
Trump trial media circus
Satellite truck city at the Trump trial on May 7, 2024 (Photo by Emily Smith)

Late night hosts, and in particular Jon Stewart, have railed against the big news media’s breathless wall-to-wall coverage of the Trump trial. TV networks have shown viewers aerial photography from the former president’s travel from Trump Tower to the courtroom. Top political reporters continue to post live updates of every thread of Trump’s comments on the way in and out of the courtroom, even though they appear to be campaign speeches.

“I do not think this is overkill at all,” CUNY media professor and journalist Jeff Jarvis told TheWrap. “If the trial of a former president and presidential candidate on felony charges is not a major news story worthy of wall-to-wall coverage, I cannot imagine what is.

“I regret that at least an audio feed of the proceedings is not provided to the public, so getting constant updates is the next best,” he added. “One advantage of such updates is, however, that in-studio experts can explain what is occurring. It is vital that the country be made aware of every tawdry and felonious detail of Trump’s activities. Journalism exists for nothing less.”

Daniels will be back on the stand for cross-examination on Thursday.

The post Trump Trial: Stormy Spills, Donald Scowls and Everyone Wants to Watch appeared first on TheWrap.