Just when we had almost forgotten her, Stormy Daniels is back in the papers. A New York judge, Juan Merchán, rejected Donald Trump’s request to dismiss criminal charges against him stemming from a hush payment he allegedly made to the porn star in 2016. The decision of a Colombian immigrant that Trump ridiculed as a “Trump-hating judge” paves the way for what will be the first criminal prosecution of a former US president. The ruling represents a setback for the former president’s legal strategy. But given that most consider it the least serious of the four criminal cases he faces, could the trial serve to unintentionally boost Trump’s campaign?

Trump has twice as many ongoing criminal cases (four) as he has ex-wives (two), so here’s a quick recap of this case if you’ve lost count. Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg charged the presumptive Republican nominee with 34 counts of falsifying business records, a terrifyingly obscure crime in a bloody heart state where illegal immigrants are allowed to assault police officers and flee. of the city, flipping the bird to the paparazzi on the way out. Daniels claims that she met Trump at a golf tournament in 2006 and that the couple had what she described in her book as possibly the “least impressive sex” she had ever had in a Lake Tahoe hotel room. The charges relate to an alleged $130,000 (£104,000) hush payment Daniels says was paid to him by Trump’s former lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, during the 2016 presidential campaign. court on Tuesday.

Jury selection will begin on March 25 and the trial could last six weeks, leaving Trump to languish in a Manhattan courtroom instead of campaigning in key states. The most damaging case against Trump – the federal election interference case in Washington – is now in the hands of the Supreme Court. In the Georgia election interference case, a key witness testified Thursday that the lead prosecutors in that case were in a romantic relationship earlier than they had acknowledged, raising questions about their credibility. Both have denied any wrongdoing. And it’s unclear when Trump’s classified documents trial will begin in Florida, so it’s possible, though unlikely, that the Stormy case will be the only trial Trump faces before the November election.

Ms. Daniels, who is bisexual and describes herself as a director, writer, author and paranormal investigator, but is best known for her work on films such as Revenge of the dildos, The vagina codeand Big tits bonanza, may be the one who benefits the most from a trial and the resulting publicity. She has an Only Fans page ($14.99 per month), merchandise, $250 pep talks and Valentine’s greetings, and her own podcast with recent guests like Alva Johnson, a former Trump campaign staffer who alleges that Trump assaulted her in 2016. Trump vehemently denied it. , and Johnson has since dropped his legal action against him. There is also a new documentary about Ms. Daniels’ life: Stormy – will debut a week before the trial.

The case will not affect Trump’s standing among the MAGA faithful, who would follow him to Guyana to guzzle jugs of cyanide-laced Kool-Aid if he asked them to. But now we are effectively in general election territory, as Nikki Haley’s campaign is as alive as a fish floating on deck. Even if the Stormy case is, as Trump’s lawyers have claimed, “a confusing package of politically motivated charges,” seeing him in the dock and reminders of an alleged fight could remind independent voters that the Trump show is a very sordid circus. .

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By Sam