Stormy Daniels Nearly Derails Alvin Bragg’s Case Against Trump As Testimony Frustrates Judge

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NEW YORK—Stormy Daniels nearly derailed Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case Tuesday as she testified about her alleged “sexual encounter” with former President Donald Trump, frustrating the judge and prompting the defense to motion for a mistrial.

While he declined to grant a mistrial, Judge Juan Merchan — who has not often criticized the prosecutors — did disapprove of Daniels’ behavior on the stand, allowing many of the objections raised by the defense during her questioning and agreeing when the mistrial motion was raised that many details would have been left better “unsaid.” Daniels did not hold back on the stand, speaking quickly and being told to slow down multiple times by Merchan as she provided elaborate descriptions, took detours with side stories and inserted demeaning details that showed her disdain for Trump.

The case, as the jury was reminded through testimony from Trump Organization accounting workers Monday, is about business records, at least according to the indictment. Specifically, business records Trump is alleged to have falsified in reimbursing his former attorney Michael Cohen for paying Daniels to stay quiet about the alleged encounter ahead of the 2016 election. (RELATED: Judge Denies Trump Attorney’s Motion For Mistrial After Stormy Daniels Testimony)

But Daniels’ time on the stand threatened to turn the court into a gossip column. Asked about meeting him for dinner at his hotel suite, she dished that Trump greeted her in pajamas.

“I immediately made fun of him,” she said, noting he changed at her request. Daniels recalled calling him “arrogant and pompous” and swatting him with a magazine.

She detailed excusing herself to use the restroom and, upon return, finding him on the bed in boxer shorts. “I just thought, ‘Oh my God, what did I misread to get here?'” she said.

Daniels’ apparent bend toward performing on the stand was exacerbated by prosecutor Susan Hoffinger’s questions, which did not always seem designed to yield a helpful answer: Was he wearing a condom? What were the relative heights? The defense frequently objected. Merchan granted most of the requests. “The degree of detail that we’re going into here is just unnecessary,” Merchan said at one point, interrupting her testimony.

These were bits of information the defense later called “prejudicial” to the jury, asking for a mistrial because there was no other way the court could “unring this bell.” Aside from “pure embarrassment,” the only reason for asking some of those questions, defense attorney Todd Blanche said, was to “inflame the jury.”

“The guardrails for this witness answering questions from the government were just thrown to the side,” Blanche said.

On cross-examination, Daniels struck a combative tone as defense attorney Susan Necheles suggested she was motivated by making money and a hatred of Trump, though Daniels admitted to the latter with a definitive “yes.”

Daniels became increasingly defiant as Necheles suggested her story about being threatened in 2011 not to speak about her encounter with Trump was false.

“The whole story was made up?” Necheels concluded, raising her voice. “No, none of it was made up,” Daniels shot back.

Necheles honed in on the details, namely, why had she not told her husband about a threat to their infant daughter?

The defense will resume their cross examination on Thursday.

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