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Highlights from the third week of the Trump hush money trial – NBC10 Philadelphia

The alleged sexual encounter at the center of Donald Trump’s criminal hush money trial got graphic exposure in court last week when porn actress Stormy Daniels shared her account before a rapt jury.

Daniels’ testimony about her time with Trump was by far the most anticipated moment of the trial, which now enters its fourth week of witnesses as prosecutors move closer to wrapping up their landmark case.

But it wasn’t all lust. Manhattan jurors saw documentary evidence intended to directly link Trump to money payments that were sent to Daniels in what prosecutors say was an effort to buy his silence in the weeks before the 2016 presidential election.

A look at what happened over the last week:

THE (UN)BALANCE OF POWER

The jury heard for seven and a half hours as Daniels testified in vivid detail about a sexual encounter she says she had in 2006 with Trump, which he has denied.

Although she has shared details before, a surprising aspect of her testimony centered on her perception of a “power imbalance” in the Lake Tahoe hotel suite where Daniels said she and Trump had sex.

With a bodyguard stationed outside the suite, he described Trump as “bigger and blocking the way.” When he finished sex, he added: “It was very difficult to put on my shoes; “My hands were shaking a lot.”

Daniels made it clear during questioning that she was not physically or verbally threatened into having sex and that she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.

But defense attorneys were so baffled by his characterizations of the encounter that they asked for a mistrial, telling Judge Juan M. Merchán that his testimony was inflammatory and differed in important ways from what he had previously said. Her statements (she said she felt “dizzy” and “fainted” while she was with Trump) amounted to a “dog whistle” for rape, said Trump’s lawyer, Todd Blanche.

“The point is that she testified today about consent, about danger. “That is not the goal of this case,” Blanche told the judge.

Merchan denied the mistrial request, but also admitted that the testimony included “some things that were better left unsaid.” The judge also rejected a separate request to allow Trump to respond publicly to Daniels’ testimony despite a gag order barring him from making extrajudicial inflammatory comments about witnesses.

‘FAKE STORIES ABOUT SEX’

Given the salacious nature of Daniels’ testimony and the volume of objections from defense attorneys as he spoke, it was not surprising that he faced combative cross-examination in what was easily the most heated back-and-forth of the trial so far. .

Trump’s team described Daniels as an unreliable witness when analyzing her personal life and profession.

There were questions about his past claims that he lived in a haunted house and about his participation in a 2018 strip club tour called “Making America Horny Again.” (For the record, Daniels said she “hated” that catchphrase.) There were also suggestions that she would benefit greatly if she continued to share her account, even when the defense called it pure fiction.

“You made this whole thing up, right?” Trump lawyer Susan Necheles asked.

“No,” was the answer.

In several particularly vitriolic exchanges, Necheles invoked Daniels’ porn actress profession to cast doubt on her credibility, telling her at one point, “You have a lot of experience making fake sex stories look real, right?”

“Wow,” Daniels responded. “I wouldn’t say it like that. Sex in movies is very real. Just like it happened to me in that room.”

The lawyer also implied that Daniels’ experience in the porn industry made it unlikely that she would have felt unsettled or scared by seeing Trump in bed.

“You’ve acted and had sex in over 200 porn movies, right? And are there naked men and women having sex, including you, in those movies? -Necheles asked. “But according to you, seeing a man sitting on a bed in a T-shirt and boxers was so disturbing that you became dizzy, the blood left your hands and feet, and you felt like you were going to faint.”

A ‘DISPARENT’ ACCUSED

Trump’s extrajudicial comments regarding jurors and witnesses have earned him monetary fines and repeated reprimands from a judge.

But his behavior inside the courtroom last week prompted a separate reprimand directed at his attorneys.

At one point, Merchan called defense attorneys for a calm discussion in court, where he told them he had observed Trump react inappropriately during Daniels’ testimony.

“I understand that your client is upset right now, but he is audibly cursing and visually shaking his head and that is dismissive. He has the potential to intimidate the witness and the jury can see that,” Merchan said, according to a transcript of the proceedings.

“I’m talking to you here on the bench because I don’t want to embarrass you,” he added.

Aside from that exchange, Trump was fined a separate $1,000 for comments about the case made during an interview last month and was warned in the most direct way yet about the possibility of prison for further violations of the order. Merchan’s silence.

THE ‘DJT’ ACCOUNT

Jurors heard more than just salacious testimony. They also learned about the financial transactions at the center of the case and saw paychecks with Trump’s signature.

Prosecutors worked to link Trump directly to the money payments to Daniels to maintain her silence. They obtained testimony that most of the checks used to reimburse Michael Cohen, Trump’s then-attorney and fixer, for payments to Daniels were drawn from Trump’s personal account, which bore his initials, “DJT.”

Deborah Tarasoff, accounts payable supervisor at the Trump Organization, said that once Trump became president, checks issued from his personal account first had to be delivered, via FedEx, “to the White House for his signature.” ”.

The checks would then come back with Trump’s Sharpie signature. “I would separate them, mail the check and archive the backup,” he said, referring to putting the invoice in the Trump Organization’s filing system.

Still, she and another witness, Jeffrey McConney, former comptroller of the Trump Organization, acknowledged that they had not received direct instructions from Trump himself about the ins and outs of the payments.

Tarasoff, for example, admitted that he did not interact much with Trump over the years and had no reason to believe that he was hiding anything or that there was anything inappropriate about the checks.

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE

Jurors got a glimpse of the high-profile social life Trump enjoyed before he became president, filled with celebrities and bold names.

A redacted contact list that Trump’s aide at his company sent to another Trump aide, representing people he frequently spoke to or might want to, included former Fox News host Bill O’Reilly, the tennis player Serena Williams, casino mogul Steve Wynn, “The Apprentice” producer Mark Burnett, “Saturday Night Live” mastermind Lorne Michaels and NFL legends Tom Brady and Bill Belichick.

His contact details were redacted, but the information nonetheless offered a window into the celebrity universe inhabited by Trump.