Trump Trial May 2 Update: Keith Davidson Wraps Up Testimony

5 min readMay 2, 2024

Today’s testimony included some dynamic testimony by Stormy Daniels attorney Keith Davidson and some testy exchanges between him and Trump attorney during cross examination.

-The day started with Trump’s second hearing for potential criminal contempt. His attorney was better prepared to provide the judge comments made by Michael Cohen that he claims Trump should be able to respond to. This included Cohen calling Trump “VonShitzinPants.” A term which quickly trended on Twitter this morning.

-The judge seemed to agree with defense’s arguments that Trump’s calling witness David Pecker “nice” didn’t violate the gag order.

-Trump’s attorney, however, struggled to excuse Trump’s attack on the jury.

-The hearing concluded with no decision on the contempt motion.

-After the lunch break Trump’s counsel tried to get the judge to rule on a stack of articles Trump wanted to post on Truth Social seeking to know if they would violate the gag order. The judge declined to rule in advance and suggested they tell their client, “if in doubt, steer clear.”

-Keith Davidson, the attorney who negotiated the hush money agreements for both Karen McDougal and Stormy Daniels returned to the stand.

-Because the contract used the pseudonyms David Dennison and Peggy Peterson for Trump and Daniels a secret “side agreement” was entered into evidence decoding their real names. Neither party was to keep that agreement, only their attorneys.

-Davidson said that Cohen called him and told him Trump was very upset when the McDougal story was published In the Wall Street Journal four days before the election. Davidson said Cohen said Trump was concerned with the timing, in such”close proximity” to the election. Cohen said “his boss” was very upset and threatened to sue McDougal.

-A January 2018 statement from Daniels denying any affair with Trump was actually prepared by Davidson working with Cohen. The statement was issued because the WSJ had sniffed out the story and asked for comment prior to publication. The statement “from” Stormy Daniels was a panicked response arranged hastily with Trump’s attorney, Michael Cohen. The statement at issue is one Trump recently posted about, falsely stating that it had been “just found.” In reality, the statement has been out since January 2018 and was prepared with Trump’s own attorney.

-The statement, signed by Daniels, said: “I recently became aware that certain news outlets are alleging that I had a sexual and/or romantic affair. … I am stating with complete clarity that this is absolutely false. … Rumors that I have received hush money from Donald Trump are completely false.”

-Davidson argued that the statement “by an extremely strict reading” was “technically” true, because the term “romantic affair” suggests an “ongoing interaction” and what allegedly happened between the two was not. Davidson also argued there was nothing “romantic” about what happened. That there is some Clinton-esque word parsing.

-Prosecutors pushed Davidson about the denial of any “hush money” payments. He said the statement was technically true because it was not “hush money” but rather “consideration” in a civil settlement. Davidson likened it to a contract where you pay someone $5 to mow your lawn.

-In a series of texts in late 2018 between Cohen and Davidson, Cohen was furious that Daniels had booked herself on the Jimmy Kimmel show. Cohen believed the story, percolating in the media at the time, was dying and there was no point in reviving it. Davidson agreed.

-When Daniels appeared on Kimmel she coyly suggested the signature on the statement denying the affair was not her own. This baffled Davidson, as reflected in texts between him and Cohen, because she signed it in front of him. [Daniels would later admit it was her signature].

-In response to the Kimmel appearance Cohen threatened to “rain legal Hell” on Daniels. Davidson tried to “thread the needle” in subsequent denials to the press in an effort to reduce risk to his client for breaching the contract.

-In wrapping up Davidson’s direct examination the prosecution asked if he had “any stake in the outcome of this trial?” Davidson answered, “No, none at all.”

-On cross examination from Trump’s attorney Davidson admitted he never met Trump, or had even been in the same room with him before this trial.

-Trump’s attorneys prompted Davidson to say that he never tied the deal to the election during negotiations, except as discussed below regarding leverage.

-Things got hostile as Trump’s attorneys attempted to suggest that Davidson was involved in a plot with Daniels that was legally extortion. Davidson made clear his representation was within the law.

-On cross Davidson stated that Cohen was so upset with not getting a job in the Trump Administration that he feared Cohen would kill himself. At one point a “depressed and despondent” Cohen told Davidson, “I can’t believe I’m not going to Washington. I saved that guy’s ass so many times, you don’t even know.

-Defense counsel asked about other celebrity clients Davidson has represented including Lindsay Lohan, Tila Tequila, Hulk Hogan and Charlie Sheen. Davidson often declined to answer citing attorney/client privilege.

-Apparently all the reports that Trump might be sleeping during the trial hit a nerve. Over lunch he posted on Truth Social: “Contrary to the FAKE NEWS MEDIA, I don’t fall asleep during the Crooked D.A.’s Witch Hunt, especially not today. I simply close my beautiful blue eyes, sometimes, listen intensely, and take it ALL in!!!

-My answer to that is that he should be doing nothing that might suggest to the jury he is sleeping during trial. Communicating to them his indifference to their lives being interrupted for this is not the smart thing to do.

-Davidson stated that he told Cohen that Daniels would lose her leverage once the election was over. Trump’s attorney elicited this to suggest Daniels was using the election to get money from Trump even though he did nothing wrong. However, it also reinforces the notion that the payment was all about the campaign, and not keeping it from Melania.

-Over two days Davidson testified for about 6 hours.

-The next witness was Douglas Daus, a tech guy in the D.A.’s office who did a forensic extraction of Cohen’s phones (with Cohen’s consent).

-The extraction included a recording of a conversation between Trump and Cohen where they discuss the catch and kill arrangement for Karen McDougal. In it Cohen discusses with Trump setting up a shell company to hide any payment to McDougal.

-The judge adjourned for the day with Daus expected to continue testifying when things resume tomorrow.




Retired lawyer & Army vet in The Villages of Florida. Lifelong: Republican (pre-Trump), Constitution buff, science nerd & dog lover. Twitter: @KeithDB80