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Hush money trial: Porn actor describes first meeting with Trump

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New York, May 7: Stormy Daniels took the witness stand Tuesday in the hush money trial of former President Donald Trump, prepared to testify about a sexual encounter the porn actor says she had in 2006 that resulted in her being paid off to keep silent during the presidential election 10 years later.
Daniels strode briskly into the courtroom before being sworn in, not pausing to look at Trump, who stared straight ahead as she entered the room.
Daniels’ testimony, even if sanitised for a courtroom setting and stripped of tell-all details, is by far the most-awaited spectacle in a trial that has toggled between tabloidesque elements and dry record-keeping details. Courtroom testimony from an adult film performer who says she had an intimate encounter with a former American president, and the presumptive Republican nominee, adds to the long line of historic firsts in a case already laden with tawdry claims of sex, payoffs and cover-ups.
Her testimony is central to the case because in the final weeks of Trump’s 2016 Republican presidential campaign, his then-lawyer and personal fixer, Michael Cohen, paid Daniels USD 130,000 to keep quiet about what she says was an awkward and unexpected sexual encounter with Trump at a celebrity golf outing in Lake Tahoe in July 2006. Trump denies having sex with Daniels and has pleaded not guilty.
In the early moments of her testimony, Daniels told jurors under questioning from prosecutors that she met Trump because the adult film studio she worked for at the time was sponsoring one of the holes on the golf course. They chatted about the adult film industry and her directing abilities when Trump’s group passed through. The celebrity real estate developer remarked that she must be “the smart one” if she’s making films, Daniels recalled.
Later, in an area known as the “gift room,” where celebrity golfers collected gift bags and swag, Trump remembered her as “the smart one” and asked her if she wanted to go to dinner, Daniels said.
Daniels testified she accepted Trump’s invite because she wanted to get out of a planned dinner with her adult film company colleagues, She said her then-publicist suggested in a phone call that Trump’s invitation was a good excuse to duck the work dinner and would “make a great story” and perhaps help her career.
“What could possibly go wrong?” she recalled the publicist saying.
Prosecutors and defence lawyers quibbled at the start of the day over the contours of her testimony. A Trump attorney, Susan Necheles, asked that Daniels be barred from testifying about “the details” of the alleged sexual encounter. Prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said such details were relevant to her credibility but also offered reassurances that they would be “really basic.” Judge Juan M. Merchan agreed to permit limited testimony.
Testimony has made clear that at the time of the payment to Daniels, Trump and his campaign were reeling from the October 7, 2016, publication of the never-before-seen 2005 “Access Hollywood” footage in which he boasted about grabbing women’s genitals without their permission. (AP)

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