It’s not just the trial, it’s also the documentary

In two weeks, Trump will make history as the first former president ever to go on trial for criminal charges. He faces 34 felony counts of falsifying business records connected to the $130,000 hush-money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels made through an intermediary in the closing weeks of the 2016 campaign to quash her story of a sexual encounter with the reality TV star.

Daniels is among the witnesses expected to be called by prosecutors in the case brought by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg. But as in recent civil cases involving Trump—including the two successful defamation cases brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused the former president of sexual assault—the proceedings won’t be televised nor will there even be audio recordings.

What we’ll likely see is an angry Trump, forced to sit in court each day rather than campaign as this is a criminal case, claiming victimhood and denouncing the prosecutors and witnesses to reporters outside the courtroom.

But it just so happens that a week before the trial, Peacock will begin streaming the documentary “Stormy” in which Daniels talks about her sexual encounter with Trump, the hush money payment, and the threats she’s faced from MAGA supporters—the very topics she is likely to testify about.

RELATED STORY: The Trump trial the Supreme Court can’t stop

Here’s the trailer for the documentary which concludes with Daniels saying, “I won’t give up because I’m telling the truth. I’m out of fucks.”:

The documentary, directed by Sarah Gibson and produced by Erin Lee Carr, with Judd Apatow serving as executive producer, had its premiere last Friday at the SXSW film festival in Austin, Texas. Daniels agreed to work with them because of their 2021 documentary “Britney vs. Spears” about the pop star’s legal travails.

Gibson told The Hollywood Reporter that the timing of the film’s release a week ahead of Trump’s hush money trial was entirely accidental:

We had no idea the hush money trial was going to go first. … We assumed that this was going to get pushed. … So it was lucky that way, but I also think it’s important for people to remind themselves about this story because so much has happened since then.” 

Carr added:

“This is life and death for Stormy. Stormy gets daily death threats. And one of the best disinfectants is sunlight. We feel like it’s important to get this information out there as quickly as possible to show what the current stakes are as we lead into the indictment.” …

“I think people are sometimes dismissive of political stories because there’s a fatigue that happens. But these are real human beings whose lives hang in the balance and along with their happiness and ability to live freely, we all know someone who’s struggled and gone up against a bully. “

The Los Angeles Times reported that the film goes into new detail about Daniels’ alleged sexual encounter with Trump in 2006. And these details are not flattering to Trump, who at the time was at the peak of his fame thanks to his reality TV show “The Apprentice.”

In 2006, Trump met Daniels at a celebrity golf tournament in Las Vegas. In the film, she says that Trump suggested he could try to get her on “Celebrity Apprentice” and invited her to his hotel room. At first their talk was all business. In the film, Daniels says that Trump told her that she reminded him of his daughter, Ivanka. “I felt that as this father figure who has watched his daughter be treated a certain way, he could identify with me. I thought we had this mutual respect,” she recounted in the film, according to the Times.

The newspaper wrote that the encounter then took a different turn:

Daniels previously told her story about the alleged sexual encounter with Trump on CBS’ “60 Minutes” in 2018, saying it was consensual. But in “Stormy,” her story differs: She says after meeting him in his hotel room and having a conversation, she went to the bathroom, came out and was cornered by him.

“I don’t remember how I got on the bed, and then the next thing I know, he was humping away and telling me how great I was,” she says. “It was awful. But I didn’t say no.”

In the latter half of the documentary, she says, “I’ve maintained that it wasn’t rape in any fashion. But I didn’t say no because I was 9 years old again.” In the film, she discusses how she was sexually abused by a neighbor as a child, something she revealed in her memoir, “Full Disclosure,” in 2018.

In the film, she also blamed herself “because I didn’t shut his a– down in that moment, so maybe make him pause before he tried it with someone else,” the Times wrote. “The hardest part about all of this is that I feel that I am partially responsible for every woman that could have come after me.”

“And the last thing I remember was like, ‘I could totally take him if I want to scream or fight, but I’m not supposed to act like that,’” explaining that as a Southerner, she “was taught to show respect and be a good girl” toward elders and men.

Trump campaign spokesman Steven Cheung, in a statement to the Times, said, “The only thing Stormy Daniels can be relied upon is to change her story when there’s money to be made. …  She has NEVER told the truth about President Trump and this ‘documentary’ is simply a last chance, low-budget fantasy sequel for a has-been pseudo-celebrity. She has once again opened herself up to tremendous legal liability and will soon be held to account.”

The Austin-American Statesman wrote that in the film Daniels also spoke about the harassment and threats she received on social media. In one scene, she reads some of the negative comments out loud. 

The film also deals with her victimization at the hands of her former lawyer, Michael Avenatti, who was sentenced to four years in prison after being convicted of wire fraud and identity theft for stealing money from Daniels.

Daniels is also on the hook for several hundred thousand dollars in legal fees that she owes to Trump after a defamation lawsuit filed by Avenatti was tossed out. Gibson told The Hollywood Reporter that Daniels didn’t “get a fair shake in the legal system.” Rolling Stone wrote:

Gibson said she wanted to make a documentary about Daniels as a way to upend the way women and other marginalized groups are often distilled into “one dimensional archetypes because it makes great clickbait.” She continued: “Stormy Daniels was constantly dehumanized and only ever described as a ‘porn star,’ instead of a mother, artist and entrepreneur. In our documentary Stormy viewers will see a more complex woman than the persona that has been crafted by the media. …

”I also hope the film brings an awareness of how the justice system is not created equal for everyone. I hope audiences discover a wider empathy for her so that she can live her life safely without discrimination and threats.”

And then there is the hush money trial itself, which The New York Times wrote “has often been dismissed by experts and observers as old, legally dubious and lacking in the sort of weighty issues that sit at the heart of, say, his two election interference cases.”

But the story then said Bragg’s case is also “arguably an election interference case.”

“And as the trial draws nearer … it’s become apparent that prosecutors would like to tell a wide ranging story full of tabloid details, one that could be personally embarrassing to Trump.

“The hush money case, which is being prosecuted by Alvin Bragg, the district attorney in Manhattan, has always been an awkward mix of the serious and the profane, based around a seamy tale of extramarital sex, business records and presidential politics. Trump’s aides are blunt that he particularly hates this case given the nature of the story that prosecutors intend to put in front of the jury.”

Tristan Snell, a former New York state assistant attorney general who helped lead the successful civil case against Trump University, told MSNBC that the hush money case will be bigger than most people expect.

“It’s going to be a consequential trial. I do believe there is a stigma attached if he is then voted by a jury to be a convicted felon, and let’s be clear, they are definitely falsification of business records. It is a slam dunk factually.”

“The only real issue here is whether or not it was done in service of another crime,” Snell said, adding that there are “multiple angles the D.A.’s office can pursue to get there.”

He added that “we will hear a clear compelling case” through the testimony of Daniels, ex-Trump lawyer and fixer Michael Cohen, and others. Snell said, “And the entire thing will be tawdry for Trump. It will not paint him in a good light. It will probably make it worse he if takes the stand.”

Director Gibson told The Hollywood Reporter that what she really admired about Daniels “was her endless ability to find humor in really dark moments” and deal with the attacks:

“She’s just so resilient and doesn’t have a victim mentality. She has this incredible courage and strength to stand up for herself. Also, she’s really a tender-hearted person and has really close relationships with her daughter and her animals and her community.”

And Daniels’ ability to deal with the attacks is evident on X, formerly known as Twitter, when she uses humor to come back at her critics.