Donald Trump hush-money trial: Judge denies motions for mistrial, modified gag order

Former President Donald Trump (C) walks over to speak to reporters as he leaves his criminal trial at Manhattan criminal court in New York on Thursday. Pool Photo by Angela Weiss/UPI
1 of 6 | Former President Donald Trump (C) walks over to speak to reporters as he leaves his criminal trial at Manhattan criminal court in New York on Thursday. Pool Photo by Angela Weiss/UPI | License Photo

May 9 (UPI) -- Stormy Daniels' continued her testimony Thursday in the Manhattan trial of Donald Trump after more than three hours on the witness stand on Tuesday.

The defense made another attempt to modify the gag order against Trump and called for a mistrial after the jury was dismissed. Attorney Todd Blanche again argued that the trial cannot continue due to Daniels' testimony.


Blanche said the details of the sexual encounter between Daniels and Trump were not related to a case that is about falsifying business records. He also cited Daniels' comments from Tuesday when she referred to recognizing an "imbalance of power" when she was in Trump's suite, saying this was not relevant.

Daniels clarified that she did not feel threatened by Trump during that encounter in 2006.

The prosecution argued that the details of the encounter and other interactions were necessary to establish Trump's motivation to make hush-money payments to Daniels.


Judge Juan Merchan denied the motion for a mistrial.

Blanche also argued that Trump should be allowed to respond to Daniels' testimony because it is important for voters to hear him deny the allegations.

Prosecutor Chris Conroy said any response from Trump should take place in the courtroom.

Conroy added that modifying the gag order could put future witnesses at risk of being intimidated or threatened.

Merchan denied the motion, saying that the gag order was issued due to "very real, very threatening attacks on potential witnesses."

Merchan cited a quote from one of Trump's books while delivering the reasoning for his ruling.

"When you are wronged, go after those people because it is a good feeling and because other people will see you doing it," Merchan recited.

The defense also motioned to prevent Playboy model Karen McDougal from testifying but the prosecution informed Blanche that she will not testify.

On Thursday, Trump attorney Susan Necheles questioned Daniels about signing the non-disclosure agreement brokered by Trump's former attorney and alleged "fixer" Michael Cohen. Daniels said she accepted the offer because she was running out of time. Her goal was to establish a record of the affair.


She added that she felt there was a "target on my back and my family's."

"I wanted the truth to be printed with some paper trail," Daniels testified.

Daniels earlier testified that she was accosted and threatened by a man in a Las Vegas parking lot in 2011, as she was on her way to a mommy-and-me class with her infant child. The man had told her to stop telling the story of her affair with Trump, according to Daniels.

Later on, Daniels restated to prosecutor Susan Hoffinger that she entered into the non-disclosure agreement out of fear for her safety.

"Something won't happen to you if everyone is looking at you," she said.

Necheles questioned Daniels about whether she benefited from going public with her story. Daniels pushed back, saying that, although she generated publicity, it was "bad publicity."

Necheles also asked Daniels about celebrating Trump's indictment and using it to sell merchandise. Daniels is selling items on her website that reference the indictment of the former president.

"Not unlike Mr. Trump," Daniels replied.

Trump's campaign has marketed merchandise featuring his mugshot taken in Fulton County, Ga., as a fundraising stream. Trump is charged in Fulton County for attempting to subvert the result of the 2020 presidential election.


In regards to celebrating Trump's indictment on social media, Daniels confirmed that she tweeted about it and shared a link to her online store.

Necheles concluded her cross-examination by alleging that Daniels never had an affair with Trump. She accused Daniels of making up the story of the affair to profit off of it.

Hoffinger argued that, although Daniels made money with her story about the affair, it also cost her more, including her sense of safety and the legal fees she now owes to Trump. Daniels said she had to hire security and "take extra precautions" for her daughter, including moving multiple times.

Daniels' testimony ended after about six hours on the stand between Tuesday and Thursday.

Rebecca Manochio, a bookkeeper for the Trump Organization, was next to take the stand. She has been employed with the company for 11 years.

Manochio testified about mailing checks to Trump for him to sign for Cohen almost weekly. She was also directed by former Trump Organization chief financial officer Allen Weisselberg or assistant Rhona Graff to mail checks to Trump's bodyguard Keith Schiller, the man who arranged for Daniels to meet with the former president.

Prosecutors entered a number of emails and FedEx invoices related to those checks into evidence.


While Merchan, the defense and prosecution discussed the defense's three motions, prosecutor Joshua Steinglass pushed back on Necheles for portraying Daniels' testimony as different from the story she had told years before.

Daniels also pushed back on this assertion on Thursday.

"The claim of changing her story is also extraordinarily untrue," Steinglass said.

Merchan has issued multiple warnings to Trump throughout the proceedings, including warnings about continued violations of the gag order against him.

Merchan warned that Trump could be jailed if he continues to violate the gag order by making extrajudicial comments about people involved in the trial, including witnesses and jurors.

Cross-examination began on Tuesday when Daniels testified about her first time meeting the former president and the alleged affair that ensued.

On Tuesday, Merchan ordered Trump's attorney Todd Blanche to warn Trump about "cursing audibly" and shaking his head during Daniels' testimony.

"One time I noticed when Ms. Daniels was testifying about rolling up the magazine, and presumably smacking your client, and after that point, he shook his head and he looked down," Merchan said. "And later, I think he was looking at you, Mr. Blanche, later when we were talking about The Apprentice, at that point he again uttered a vulgarity and looked at you this time."


Trump is charged with 34 criminal counts related to falsifying documents to cover up affairs with Daniels and McDougal. He pleaded not guilty to all counts.

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