Stormy Daniels, shown leaving court, last week testified in Manhattan...

Stormy Daniels, shown leaving court, last week testified in Manhattan about a tryst she said she had with Donald Trump in 2006. Credit: AP/Seth Wenig

After weeks of hearing about behind-the-scenes efforts by allies of former President Donald Trump to negotiate hush money deals on his behalf, jurors in Trump’s Manhattan criminal trial last week heard directly from Stormy Daniels, the adult film actress at the heart of the 2016 election-year deal.

Over the course of two days, Daniels recalled a one-night tryst she said she had with Trump in 2006. She provided details that prosecutors argued were necessary to establish the credibility of her assertions but that Trump’s lawyers argued unsuccessfully were so graphic that a mistrial should be declared.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, denies the affair and has pleaded not guilty to 34 felony counts of falsifying business documents. Prosecutors say Trump concealed payments from the Trump Organization to his former personal attorney, Michael Cohen, that ultimately were used to pay Daniels $130,000 for her silence ahead of the 2016 election.

“This is a disgraceful trial,” Trump told reporters before entering Judge Juan Merchan’s courtroom on Friday.

Prosecutors on Friday indicated they likely could rest their case by the end this week.

Here are five takeaways from the third week of testimony:

Daniels on the witness stand

Daniels’ testimony — including assertions that Trump did not use a condom during their alleged affair — prompted Trump to curse audibly in the courtroom on Tuesday.

How Daniels’ testimony will play with jurors remains to be seen.

Mitchell Epner, a white-collar criminal defense attorney and former federal prosecutor who handled sex crimes cases, said the challenge for prosecutors in bringing in Daniels as a witness is that jurors tend to view sex industry workers as untrustworthy.

But Trump lawyer Susan Necheles’ heated cross-examination of Daniels may have worked against Trump and provided the prosecution some points by humanizing Daniels, Epner told Newsday. Necheles questioned why Daniels as a porn actress would have been so upset by the alleged sight of Trump in his underwear. Daniels said she was not anticipating Trump would be in his underwear when she returned from a brief bathroom break.

“By cross-examining her for a day, so that she spends more than seven hours on the witness stand, the jurors actually are likely to have gotten an impression of who Stormy Daniels is as a human being beyond the label of pornography actress,” Epner said. “Humanizing Stormy Daniels makes it more difficult to ask the jurors to just dismiss her testimony because she is a sex worker.”

Randy Zelin, a Cornell Law School professor and longtime criminal defense attorney, said he believed Daniels’ testimony would ultimately hurt prosecutors because her account about the night in question with Trump strayed far from a case about falsified business documents.

Zelin told Newsday: “If I'm sitting there in the jury box, I'm saying to myself, ‘Well, [the prosecution] is supposed to come here and show me where the false entries were being made in his books and records … that those false entries were made to influence the election. That's it. I don't need to know anything about … whether the president had his underwear on or off.' ”

Mistrial motions denied

Trump’s legal team tried twice to get the case dismissed last week by filing motions for a mistrial, but Merchan denied both requests.

On both occasions, Trump’s team argued that the explicit nature of Daniels’ testimony was unfair to Trump. But prosecutors argued that their initial line of questioning about her alleged tryst with Trump was needed to establish the credibility of her account.

Trump attorney Todd Blanche on Thursday told Merchan: “This is not a case about sex. This is extremely prejudicial testimony.”

Manhattan prosecutor Joshua Steinglass argued that Trump’s defense team was “trying to have their cake and eat it, too,” by attacking Daniels during opening statements and seeking a mistrial after she delivered her account.

Zelin said Trump’s team likely is filing mistrial motions to establish a record of all their objections should they eventually need to appeal if he is convicted.

“They can ask for a mistrial 200 times if they deem it necessary,” Zelin said. “You must make that record if you have to ever argue to an appellate court that the conviction was wrong.”

New York-to-D.C. checks pipeline

While Daniels’ testimony took up the bulk of last week’s proceedings, prosecutors also called lesser-known witnesses who worked for Trump. Prosecutors were trying to establish how even as president he continued to sign off on Trump Organization checks and expenses.

Trump’s attorneys have argued he was so consumed by his job as president that he paid little attention to Cohen and the hush money payments Cohen facilitated to Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal. Prosecutors said Trump was completely aware of the checks and documents he signed.

Trump’s former White House aide, Madeleine Westerhout, recounted that FedEx envelopes containing checks were mailed from New York to the home address of Trump’s bodyguard in Washington, D.C., who then would deliver the checks to Westerhout to give to Trump to sign at the White House.

“I don’t recall how frequently, but it was consistent. Maybe twice a month,” Westerhout told prosecutors.

Westerhout testified that Trump was “attentive” when it came to signing the checks before him, and he often called the Trump Organization’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg, if he had questions.

Trump attorney Necheles pushed back on Friday, asking Westerhout if Trump was sometimes distracted and on the phone when signing checks.

“He was a person who multitasked, right?” Necheles asked. “Yes,” Westerhout replied.

Trump’s books cited as evidence

Prosecutors turned to the series of books Trump published about his life and business dealings before he became president to establish that he was deeply involved and aware of all the transactions involving the Trump Organization.

“I always sign my checks, so I know where my money is going,” Trump wrote in “Think Like a Billionaire."  "In the same spirit, I try always to read my bills.”

Blanche noted that Trump worked with a ghostwriter on most of his books and suggested material for the excerpts in question did not always come directly from Trump.

Next week: Cohen testifies

Cohen is expected to take the stand on Monday as the final key witness for the prosecution.

Throughout the trial, Trump’s lawyers have sought to portray Cohen as a flawed witness, a one-time member of Trump’s inner circle who later turned against the former president when he was not offered a White House job. Prosecutors in opening arguments acknowledged Cohen's past but urged jurors to “keep an open mind” and consider “all the evidence” corroborating his testimony.

On Friday, Merchan urged prosecutors to tell Cohen not to weigh in on the trial or Trump, as he has done recently on social media.

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