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May 11, 2024 kHyal

Why Donald Trump’s Lawyers Didn’t Object to Stormy Daniels ‘Explicit’ Evidence

Coffey Modica partner Paul Golden lends his legal expertise to Newsweek to explain the latest developments in Trump’s civil fraud trial.

May 11, 2024 | Sean O’Driscoll, Senior Crime and Courts Reporter

Donald Trump’s lawyers did not object to Stormy Daniels’ “explicit” testimony because they did not want the jury to believe the former president had “something to hide,” a senior attorney has said.

Juan Merchan, the judge overseeing Trump’s hush-money trial, repeatedly expressed his surprise that Trump’s legal team did not put in more objections to Daniels’ graphic evidence.

Merchan said on Thursday that he was especially surprised that Trump’s lawyer, Susan Necheles, did not object when Daniels claimed Trump did not wear a condom during sex. Trump has denied ever being sexually involved with Daniels.

“But for the life of me, I don’t know why Ms. Necheles didn’t object,” Merchan said during a hearing on a motion for a mistrial from Trump’s legal team. “Why on earth she wouldn’t object to a mention of a condom, I don’t understand.”

Paul Golden, author of Litigating Adverse Possession Cases: Pirates v. Zombies and a partner at the New York law firm Coffey Modica, told Newsweek that in the moments when Trump’s lawyers did object, Merchan largely agreed and upheld their objections.

“When Trump’s team objected, for the most part, Judge Merchan sustained those objections. However, apparently, Hon. Merchan noted that he was surprised that there were not more objections,” he said.

Trump, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee for 2024, is the first former president in U.S. history to stand trial in a criminal case. He has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records. He has continually said that this case and other criminal and civil challenges involving him are politically motivated.

The prosecution seeks to prove that before the 2016 presidential election, Trump paid or discussed paying two women—adult film star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal—to not disclose his alleged affairs with them. He denies affairs with both women.

Daniels completed her evidence on Thursday after an occasionally heated cross-examination with Trump’s attorney.

Newsweek has contacted Trump’s attorney for comment outside of normal working hours.

After Daniels finished giving evidence, Merchan refused the Trump team’s motion for a mistrial.

He agreed that some of Daniels’ more graphic details should not have come out, but said that was the fault of the Trump team for not objecting.

“I agree, that shouldn’t have come out. I wish those questions hadn’t been asked, and I wish those answers hadn’t been given,” Merchan said.

Golden said that the Trump team, like any trial attorneys, are involved in a “balancing act” while objecting to testimony.

He said that if an attorney “objects too much to testimony, it may make it appear to the jury that his client has something to hide.”

“But if he does not object at the right times, then there is a danger that irrelevant and prejudicial evidence will be admitted, and an appellate court may rule that the particular issue is not preserved for appeal,” he said. “That’s because an appellate court will not consider an appeal based on a witness’ testimony unless an objection was first raised with the trial judge.

“In many cases, if an attorney does not object to testimony, and waits until the appeal to claim that the testimony was inadmissible, the appellate court will decide that it will not even address that particular issue.”

Golden said: “Are the explicit details Ms. Daniels testified about, concerning the alleged sexual encounter, of the kind that would prejudice the jury’s view of Trump to the degree that, essentially, they will be unable to fairly consider the relevant evidence? Would a typical juror in Manhattan be so outraged or distracted by such details that it would prevent that juror from being fair? These are some of the factors Judge Merchan undoubtedly considered.”