May 30, 2024

Stormy was working blue, and the judge was seeing red.

Justice Juan Merchan chided Donald Trump’s lawyer Susan Necheles, saying he didn’t understand why she hadn’t objected to seamy details about the President and the Porn Star spilling out.

“Why on earth she wouldn’t object to the mention of a condom I don’t understand,” Merchan complained about Necheles.

But I wanted to hear about the condom — or lack thereof. The New York trial involves an abstruse legal strategy and illusory crime. It’s the weakest of the cases against Trump. It’s certainly not putting him on trial for the attempted coup d’état he incited or for treating top secret documents as dinner conversation fodder at his golf clubs. But it now seems almost certain that none of the other cases will be resolved before the election.

So we’re left with a two-bit case that has devolved into dirty bits, filled with salacious details — a spanking, a missionary position and ping-ponging insults like “horse face” and “orange turd.”

Yet, even if it plays like a cheesy old Cinemax “After Dark” show, it’s still illuminating. The case doesn’t hinge on Stormy Daniels’s story about her liaison with Trump, or even if the former president is lying when he says they didn’t have sex. (He would say that, wouldn’t he?)

It’s instructive about the moral values — or lack thereof — of our once and perhaps future president.

We know that Trump is a louche operator. But, given that he is leading in crucial swing states, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of just how louche.

To paraphrase Mary McCarthy on Lillian Hellman, every word Trump utters is a lie, including “and” and “the.”

Trump’s legal team seems to be hoping that Hope Hicks and Madeleine Westerhout, his former aides who tearily testified for the prosecution, gave the impression that he didn’t want the Stormy story to come out on the eve of the 2016 election because he was tenderly concerned about how it would affect Melania, rather than selfishly concerned about his presidential aspirations.

Asked about Trump’s intentions, Stormy offered a shrug to the jury, saying, “I wouldn’t know what he wanted to protect.”

In her telling, Trump wasn’t concerned about his wife, with a new baby at home. He told Stormy not to worry about Melania.

Stormy said he was more focused on her resemblance to Ivanka and a possible threesome with another blond porn star, Alana Evans, of “It’s Okay! She’s My Mother in Law 13” and “Dirty Little Sex Brats 9.”

When Necheles tried to make Stormy seem tawdry on cross-examination, the mistress of exotica flipped the script. Sure, she was an opportunist and a finagler and a marketer of tacky products, she conceded in essence, but if it was OK for a man who ascended to the highest office in the land, wasn’t it OK for her?

Stormy made mincemeat of Necheles’s tone-deaf attempt to paint her as a shabby self-promoter with one response: “Not unlike Mr. Trump.”

As The Times noted, Stormy and Donnie were like twins: “He wrote more than a dozen self-aggrandizing books; she wrote a tell-all memoir. He mocked her appearance on social media; she fired back with a scatological insult. He peddled a $59.99 Bible; she hawked a $40 ‘Stormy, saint of indictments’ candle, that carried her image draped in a Christlike robe.”

Trump may have undermined his own case, falling prey to his own capacious and quivering ego. He clearly wanted his lawyers to push his unconvincing tale that — even though he paid $130,000 to keep Stormy from talking and even though she described what’s in his dopp kit and the details of his anatomy — the 2006 Lake Tahoe rendezvous was a figment of her imagination.

Necheles doggedly pursued this fruitless tack with Stormy, to her own and Trump’s detriment.

“You made all this up, right?” the lawyer pressed.

“No,” Stormy replied.

When Necheles kept pecking, noting that the actress, director and producer had starred in porn films with “phony stories about sex,” Stormy leveled her by slyly replying that if she had made up the story about her encounter with Trump, “I would have written it to be a lot better.” She also schooled Trump’s lawyer on the fact that “The sex is very real. That’s why it’s pornography and not a B movie.”

Trump came across as a loser in her account — a narcissist, cheater, sad Hugh Hefner wannabe, trading his satin pajamas for a dress shirt and trousers (and, later, boxers) as soon as Stormy mocked him. The man who was the likely source of the “Best Sex I Ever Had” tabloid headline, attributed to Marla Maples at the time, no doubt loathes Stormy for having described their batrachian grappling, as Aldous Huxley called sex, as “textbook generic.”

Like a legal dominatrix, Stormy continued to emasculate the former president after her testimony, tweeting: “Real men respond to testimony by being sworn in and taking the stand in court. Oh … wait. Nevermind.”

The compelling part of this case is not whether Trump did something wrong with business papers. The compelling part is how it shows, in a vivid way, that he’s the wrong man for the job.

The post Donnie After Dark appeared first on New York Times.