Donald Trump’s Lawyers Deploy ‘Odd’ Cross-Examination Strategy

A legal analyst has questioned the “irrationality” of Donald Trump’s attorneys’ cross-examination strategy in his ongoing hush-money trial in Manhattan.

Speaking on MSNBC Sunday, legal expert Andrew Weissmann pointed to the defense’s heavy emphasis on aggressively cross-examining Stormy Daniels, the adult film actor who claims to have had an affair with Trump.

“It was an odd choice to go after her and not the witnesses who are actually damaging,” Weissmann Sunday.

The former president has pleaded not guilty to 34 counts of falsifying business records relating to a $130,000 hush-money payment to Daniels. Trump has denied having sex with Daniels.

Central to the trial is the prosecution’s assertion that the payment was made to silence Daniels in order to influence the 2016 presidential election.

Weissmann noted that David Pecker, the former National Enquirer boss, has testified about conversations with Trump regarding an alleged “catch and kill” scheme to buy the rights to negative stories with the intention to never publish them.

The analyst added that Trump’s former longtime aide Hope Hicks had also given “devastating testimony” about Trump’s knowledge of the scheme.

“Those are the witnesses that needed to be crossed, those are the witnesses where you’d have to come up with something to say to the jury about why they got it wrong — either they misremembered or they’re lying. And yet, the person who was subjected to this withering cross-examination was Stormy Daniels,” Weissmann said.

The analyst noted that Daniels’ testimony was effectively irrelevant to the case, as it did not matter whether the affair had really happened—what mattered was the Trump camp’s alleged efforts to suppress the story.

Weissmann questioned “the irrationality of what is actually happening on the defense side here.”

Trump outside court
Former President Donald Trump, with attorney Todd Blanche (R), speaks to the press before leaving for the day at his criminal trial at Manhattan Criminal Court on May 10, 2024 in New York City. A legal analyst questioned…

Timothy A. Clary-Pool/Getty Images

Daniels faced hours of heated cross-examination from Trump’s attorneys last week, in which they tried to catch her out on inconsistencies in her story and claim that she was motivated by money to go public with her story.

Brent Baker, an attorney with the Buchalter law firm in Salt Lake City, previously told Newsweek that Daniels had “remained strong” under the intense cross-examination.

Trump’s criminal trial, the first time an American president has faced one, continues this week, with his former fixer and personal attorney Michael Cohen due to take the stand on Monday.

Cohen’s testimony is set to be critical, as he claims he paid Daniels the hush-money payment himself before being reimbursed by Trump.

Speaking on MSNBC, Weissmann said that Cohen should emulate Daniels’ “smart, careful and unflappable” demeanor when on the stand.