‘Do you worry about STDs?’: Stormy Daniels’ testimony on Trump affair off to cringey start

At 10.30am Tuesday in a New York City courtroom, five words changed the course of American history: “The people call Stormy Daniels.”

Daniels, now a household name, is an adult film actor at the center of a hush-money criminal trial that could land Donald Trump, the former president and present Republican presidential frontrunner, behind bars.

Related: Stormy Daniels testifies: day 13 of Trump’s hush-money trial at a glance

Manhattan prosecutors said that Trump’s one-time lawyer Michael Cohen paid $130,000 to Daniels for her silence about a sexual liaison weeks before the 2016 election; in turn, he allegedly described repayments to him as legal expenses on business records.

But when Daniels entered judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom this morning, that discourse on ledgers and checks and bank records receded into the background.

Trump turned to look at her as she took her seat at the stand and then leaned back in his chair, with a passive look on his face. Trump’s son Eric, who was in the front row of the gallery, behind his father, looked at the wall. Alina Habba, a Trump attorney not on this case, sat with her arms crossed.

The long-awaited courtroom showdown between Daniels and Trump then began. Over the course of several hours, Daniels dished up a made-for-tabloid mix of titillation and gossip in detailing an alleged encounter with him some 20 years prior.

Daniels, who met Trump at a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, walked jurors through the fateful evening when she went to his hotel room, thinking his dinner invitation was just that.

“It’ll make a great story,” Daniels’ colleague said to her when she was weighing whether or not to go. “What would possibly go wrong?”

As Daniel told it, the answer would be a lot.

They decided to talk a bit before grabbing dinner, she recalled. Trump repeatedly asked about Daniels’ work as an adult entertainer, prodding her with questions such as: “What about testing? Do you worry about STDs?” Had she been tested?

“Yes, of course, and I volunteered it as well,” she said. “He asked me, oh, well, have you ever had a bad test, I said: ‘Nope, I can show you my entire record.’”

At one point, Trump started to show Daniels photos, including one of Melania. Daniels told Trump she was “very beautiful”. He said they slept in separate bedrooms.

They talked about The Apprentice, Trump’s reality show. Daniels said there would be no way she could get on network television, given her work in adult entertainment.

It was at this point Trump appeared to compare Daniels to his daughter, Ivanka.

“You remind me of my daughter, she is smart and blonde and beautiful and people underestimate her as well,” Daniels recalled Trump saying.

Several waters into their conversation, Daniels went to use the restroom, which was through a bedroom. When she left the bathroom, there Trump was – on the bed, clad in boxer shorts and a T-shirt.

“At first I was just startled, like a jump scare,” Daniels told jurors. “I just thought: oh, my God, what did I misread to get here? The intention is pretty clear if someone’s stripped down to their underwear and on the bed.”

She tried to extract herself from the situation, but Trump stood between her and the door but, she insisted, “not in a threatening manner”.

Related: Who is Stormy Daniels and the other key players in Donald Trump’s hush-money trial?

“He said, I thought we were getting somewhere. I thought you were serious about what you wanted, if you want to get out of that trailer park … ” Daniels recalled Trump saying. “I was offended, because I never lived in a trailer park.”

Daniels said they wound up having sex. The scant details that followed – among them mention of a specific sexual position and condoms – prompted a flurry of defense objections. At times during Daniels’ testimony, Trump could be seen shaking his head.

At one moment, Trump became so incensed by Daniels’ testimony that he swore out loud, prompting Merchan to call lawyers to the bench. “I understand that your client is upset at this point, but he is cursing audibly, and he is shaking his head visually and that’s contemptuous,” Merchan said. “It has the potential to intimidate the witness and the jury can see that.”

“You need to speak to him. I won’t tolerate that,” Merchan said. Trump’s lead lawyer Todd Blanche said he’d talk to his client, a transcript of the sidebar released Tuesday evening revealed.

Blanche, even asked for a mistrial based on the extra marginalia in her comments. “We move for a mistrial based on the testimony this morning,” Blanche told Merchan following the lunch break. “There’s no way to unring that bell, in our view.”

“Aside from pure embarrassment,” Blanche said, these details only served to “inflame the jury”.

Merchan rejected this request, but defense attorney Susan Necheles did her best to make Daniels like anything but a victim of circumstance. Why, Necheles asked, after so many years did Daniels decide to come forward with her story in 2016?

“You were looking to extort money from President Trump, right?”

“False”, Daniels insisted.

“Well, that’s what you did, right?”

“False!” said Daniels, whose defiance on the cross-examination contrasted with her seeming nervous discomfort earlier on.

Her cross-examination is expected to continue on Thursday.

Hugo Lowell contributed to the reporting for this piece

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