Stormy Daniels will take stand Tuesday in Trump’s hush money trial: Sources

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(NEW YORK) — Stormy Daniels, one of the prosecutor’s star witnesses, is scheduled to take the stand Tuesday, sources told ABC News.

The decision to call Daniels, who acted in adult films, as a witness allows the jury to hear from the woman at the center of former President Donald Trump’s criminal trial.

Prosecutors argue that Trump — still reeling from the release of the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape in October 2016 — orchestrated a last-minute $130,000 hush money payment through his then-lawyer Michael Cohen in exchange for Daniels’ silence about an alleged 2006 sexual encounter with Trump, which the former president has denied took place.

When Trump repaid Cohen in 2017, prosecutors allege Trump falsified business records to hide the hush money payment from voters.

While the alleged criminal conduct centers on the falsification of business records, Daniels’ alleged encounter with Trump and negotiations through her former lawyer Keith Davidson are likely to be discussed during her testimony.

In her 2018 book, Daniels wrote that she first met Trump at a celebrity golf outing in Lake Tahoe, California, on July 13, 2006. Daniels alleges that Trump invited her for dinner and to his suite, where they had sex after discussing the possibility of casting her on “The Apprentice.”

Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, said she kept in touch with Trump over the following year, meeting him on at least four additional occasions, including visiting Trump Tower. Trump’s longtime executive assistant Rhonda Graff testified about spotting Daniels in Trump Tower when Trump was considering casting her in “The Apprentice.”

Daniels only alleges her first meeting with Trump was a sexual encounter and the relationship ended when Trump told her she would not be cast on “The Apprentice.”

“Life goes on,” Daniels wrote in her book Full Disclosure. “It’s easy to move on from bad sex with a billionaire and his fizzled plan to game out his reality show competition.”

Daniels alleges she last heard from Trump in 2008 when he called her to explain why another porn star made an appearance on the “Celebrity Apprentice.”

“He was freaking out that I would be furious that the show had let another porn star on when he couldn’t get me on, ” Daniels said.

When allegations of her affair with Trump arose in 2011 and 2016, Daniels said her former lawyer Davidson and agent Gina Rodriguez handled most of the negotiating, including the October 2016 negotiation with Cohen for the rights to her story.

“Keith handed me a seventeen-page nondisclosure agreement and they opened the trunk so I could sign it right there under the light,” Daniels wrote in her book, suggesting she preferred the story never come out for her own safety.

Prosecutors and defense attorneys have offered jurors competing views on the relevance of Daniels’ testimony in the case.

According to prosecutors, Michael Cohen paid Daniels $130,000 just days ahead of the 2016 election for her silence, and Trump falsified business recordings in 2017 when he reimbursed Cohen.

“Cohen made that payment at the defendant’s direction, and he did it to influence the presidential election,” prosecutor Matthew Colangelo told jurors in his opening statement.

Defense lawyers have denied that Trump ever had a relationship with Daniels and argued that the adult film star extorted Trump in the days ahead of the 2016 elections.

“Michael Cohen paying Stormy Daniels or Stephanie Clifford $130,000 in exchange for her agreeing to not publicly spread false claims about President Trump is not illegal,” defense lawyer Todd Blanche told jurors. “It was sinister, and it was an attempt to try to embarrass President Trump, to embarrass his family.”

In the months before the trial, defense lawyers had attempted to convince Judge Juan Merchan to limit Daniels’ testimony, arguing the adult film star would prejudice the jury with the salacious details of her allegations. Merchan disagreed with defense lawyers and allowed Daniels to testify, citing her relevance to the chain of events leading to the falsification of business records.

“Locating and purchasing the information from Daniels not only completes the narrative of events that precipitated the falsification of business records but is also probative of the Defendant’s intent,” Judge Merchan wrote in a pre-trial ruling.

Daniels has since spoken publicly about her desire to testify at the trial.

“I’m absolutely ready. I’ve been ready. I’m hoping with all of my heart that they call me because … I don’t need someone to speak for me,” Daniels told ABC’s The View. “I relish the day that I get to face him and speak my truth.”

Trump’s lawyers have attempted to downplay Daniels’ significance, telling jurors that her testimony “does not matter” because she can’t speak to the allegations of falsifying business records.

“Her testimony, while salacious, does not matter,” Blanche told jurors in his opening statement.

Daniels’ credibility is likely to be a central point of her testimony, and defense lawyers are expected to lead a lengthy cross examination of the adult-film star. Daniels issued multiple denials of her affair with Trump, including a 2018 statement drafted by her former lawyer Keith Davidson that she later retracted. Daniels also attempted to sue Trump for defamation in 2018, but a judge tossed the case and ordered Daniels to pay Trump’s legal fees. Daniels’ former lawyer Michael Avenatti has been convicted of multiple federal crimes, including stealing money from the adult film actress.

Daniels has maintained her credibility as a witness and insists that her allegations about Trump have been consistent because they are true.

“Why is it the same story? Because I’m telling the truth, and I haven’t changed my story,” Daniels told The View. “Those details are burned into my soul forever.”

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