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'We are so innocent': Top 5 moments of Trump trial, from mistrial denials to Stormy Daniels' testimony

Former President Trump’s criminal trial will resume Friday after Judge Juan Merchan, for the second time, denied his defense attorney’s request for a mistrial following salacious testimony from Stormy Daniels. 

Daniels, who claims to have had a sexual encounter with Trump in 2006, took the stand for cross-examination Thursday morning after hours of questioning Tuesday that even the judge called “unnecessary” and “irrelevant.”

Trump has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records in the first degree. The charges stem from a years-long investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. The charges are related to alleged payments made ahead of the 2016 presidential election to silence Daniels about an alleged 2006 extramarital affair with Trump.

But the former president and presumptive Republican presidential nominee declared, “We are so innocent.” 


Trump defense attorney Susan Necheles vs. Stormy Daniels

Susan Necheles, after cross-examination, said Stormy Daniels’ story about an alleged sexual encounter with the former president keeps changing because the affair never happened. 

Necheles pointed to a statement Daniels signed in 2018 denying an encounter with Trump ever took place. Daniels said she did not write the statement but signed it. 

Necheles pointed to another statement in which Daniels denied having a sexual relationship with Trump. In part, the statement said, “I’m denying this affair because it never happened.”

Daniels maintained that she signed the statements, entered a non-disclosure agreement and took a $130,000 payment, which prosecutors allege was illegally marked as legal expenses, for protection. But Trump’s team aimed to show that Daniels was after a payday and changed her story when it would lead to profit. 

Daniels denied ever requesting money from Trump. Facing pressure from Necheles, Daniels added, “I never asked for money from anyone in particular. I asked for money for telling my story. … I was asking for money from publications to sell my story, to get the truth out.”

Donald Trump arrives to court on the first day of opening arguments in his trial at Manhattan Criminal Court

Daniels admitted to selling the story for nearly $1 million, when she agreed to write her book, “Full Disclosure,” for $800,000. But she claimed she did not receive all that money.

When asked for specific details about the alleged sexual encounter in 2006 on the sidelines of a celebrity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, Daniels appeared to tell a different story in court than when she first spoke about the incident, or in her book. 

“You told In Touch a completely different story,” Necheles said, which Daniels denied, adding there were just “parts in the middle I didn’t remember.” 


“You made it up,” Necheles said. 

Former U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Stormy Daniels is questioned by defense attorney Susan Necheles during Trump's criminal trial

“No,” Daniels replied.

Necheles asked Daniels if she knew or understood why Trump was indicted in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s case. She said she did not, adding he was “indicted for a lot of things.”

Former White House aide gets emotional discussing time in Trump admin

Madeleine Westerhout, who previously served as former President Trump’s personal secretary in the White House, was brought to tears Thursday on the stand as she described her experience in the administration.

The emotion came as Westerhout outlined the former president’s relationship with his wife, Melania Trump.

Westerhout said the couple’s relationship was one of mutual respect and that they laughed often when they were in the Oval Office.

Westerhout said Melania would sometimes text Trump, reminding him that it was past dinner time and asking when her husband was coming home.

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the press alongside his lawyer Todd Blanche

Getting emotional as she reflected on her time in the White House under Trump, Westerhout said she has “grown so much” and said she really respects Trump and thinks he’s been treated unfairly.

Prosecution decides not to call Playboy model Karen McDougal 

After Stormy Daniels’ testimony, prosecutors said they would no longer call Playboy model Karen McDougal as a witness in the trial. 

McDougal also allegedly received a payment to keep silent about an alleged affair with Trump. She sold her story to the National Enquirer, which never published it, in exchange for $150,000. McDougal’s payout is not part of the criminal charges.

Prosecutor Joshua Steinglass defended the decision not to call McDougal, saying prosecutors did not “change their minds” about calling her. Instead, prosecutors never formally decided if they would use her as a witness during trial. 

Judge denies request for gag order modification, mistrial after Stormy Daniels testimony

Judge Juan Merchan denied Trump defense attorneys’ request for a mistrial and a modification of a gag order Thursday, arguing the former president should be able to defend himself against Stormy Daniels’ salacious and “prejudicial” testimony.

Trump defense attorney Todd Blanche first requested a mistrial Tuesday after Daniels’ first day on the stand but was denied. Merchan did, however, admit Daniels was a difficult witness to control and said much of her testimony was “unnecessary” and “irrelevant” to the charges.

Trump attorneys on Thursday again requested a mistrial.

New York Supreme Court Judge Juan Merchan listens as former U.S. President Donald Trump watches as Stormy Daniels is questioned by defense attorney Susan Necheles during Trump's criminal trial

Blanche said the prosecution asked Daniels “a whole host of questions” that never should have been asked, pointing to questions about the porn actress’s childhood and her alleged interaction with Trump. Blanche argued they were “things that are irrelevant to the facts of this case.”

Blanche reminded that the case is not about sex and again stressed that Daniels’ testimony was “extraordinarily prejudicial for the jury to hear.”


“It is so dangerous, so prejudicial, it borders on a problem from the beginning,” Blanche said, adding that Daniels’ testimony and story about the alleged sexual encounter kept changing.

But Merchan denied the request and reminded Blanche that, during his opening argument, he denied Trump had a sexual encounter with Stormy Daniels. 

“Your denial puts the jury in a position to decide who to believe,” Merchan said, adding the defense could have objected many times during Daniels’ testimony “but didn’t.” 

With regard to one explicit detail, Merchan said he agreed that “shouldn’t have come out … but for the life of me, I don’t know why Ms. Necheles didn’t object.”

Merchan told Blanche he made decisions to strike things from the record to “protect” Trump and said he disagrees with any changing narrative while adding that the details “add a sense of credibility.” 

Blanche also requested a modification to the gag order, arguing Daniels made false statements about Trump, and the former president should be allowed to defend himself now that her testimony is complete. 

The judge denied that request. 

Trump declares: ‘We are so innocent’

“So, what happened today? I don’t think we have to do any expert explaining. I’m not allowed to anyway because this judge is a corrupt judge. This judge, what he did and what his ruling was, is a disgrace,” Trump said after court adjourned, adding Merchan is “totally conflicted.” 

Trump, the presumptive 2024 Republican presidential nominee, said he’s “got to get back on the campaign trail.” 

Sally Franklin gives testimony during former U.S. President Donald Trump's criminal trial

“I’m not supposed to be here,” Trump said. “We are so innocent. There’s never been anything like it.

“I’m innocent, and I’m being held in this court with a corrupt judge who’s totally conflicted.” 

The former president said it is “a disgrace to the city of New York, to the state of New York and to the country.” 

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