Stormy Daniels set to testify at Trump’s hush money trial

NEW YORK — Manhattan prosecutors are expected to call porn star Stormy Daniels to the witness stand Tuesday at Donald Trump’s Manhattan hush money trial.

The former president’s legal team began the day’s proceedings asking Judge Juan Merchan to prevent her from divulging “salacious” details of their alleged tryst more than a decade ago.

But prosecutor Susan Hoffinger said it was vital for the prosecution to establish the credibility of Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, promising, “It’s not going to involve any details of genitalia.”

Merchan said he would allow limited testimony on the topic.

Daniels has long alleged she slept with Trump at a 2006 charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe, not long after his marriage to Melania and less than a year after the birth of his youngest child.

When she testified at her former lawyer Michael Avenatti’s trial, at which he was accused and ultimately convicted of stealing her advance book proceeds, the adult film star rejected descriptions of the encounter as an affair.

“I don’t consider getting cornered coming out of a bathroom to be an affair,” Daniels testified.

Jurors last week heard extensive testimony from her lawyer in 2016, Keith Davidson, who told the court about Michael Cohen’s eleventh-hour effort to pay her off before the election Trump won to ensure the electorate wouldn’t learn of her claims before heading to the polls.

Daniels first sought to go public about the tryst with Trump in a 2011 interview with InTouch, but the story was killed after Cohen threatened to sue. The magazine published her claims years later, in March 2018, reporting that it had corroborated her claims with her ex-husband and that she’d passed a lie detector test.

Trump is facing 34 felonies in his Manhattan criminal case, all of which he denies, alleging he covered up his reimbursement to Cohen for paying off Daniels after he took the White House.

Prosecutors say the payments came as the last stage of a scheme to influence the results of the 2016 election first devised at Trump Tower between Trump, Cohen, and former tabloid publisher David Pecker.

On Monday, jurors saw the 2017 checks to Cohen bearing Trump’s famous spiky signature and handwritten notes by his former finance chief calculating the fixer’s debt for handling the hush money deal.

Trump’s defense has claimed that he didn’t know about the payment and believed he was paying his then-personal lawyer for legitimate legal work.

“We didn’t put it down as construction costs, the purchase of sheetrock, the electrical costs,” Trump said on his way into court on Tuesday morning. “The legal expense that we paid was put down as legal expense. There’s nothing else you could say.”

During testimony by Hope Hicks on Friday, Trump’s former campaign press secretary and White House communications chief said Trump acknowledged Cohen had paid off the porn star when it was first reported in detail, claiming to her he didn’t know about it and that Cohen did it out of “the kindness of his heart.”

Hicks conceded that would be out of character for Cohen, casting doubt on the likelihood he didn’t expect to be paid back.