What Kind of Husband Behaves Like Donald Trump?

Donald Trump sat silent, stone-faced and staring straight ahead as he listened to the intimate details in Stormy Daniels’s testimony on Tuesday, closing his eyes at times in an apparent attempt to maintain his composure.

But there was one moment when he lost it — when Ms. Daniels recounted asking Mr. Trump about his wife, Melania Trump, and recalled that he told her they didn’t “even sleep in the same room.” From the defense table Mr. Trump shook his head in disgust and muttered “bullshit” loud enough that he drew a rebuke from the judge, who called his actions “contemptuous.”

Mr. Trump has a great deal of experience sending a specific message to his intended audience — whether on television, at rallies, through social media or in the Oval Office. His intended audience, on Tuesday and throughout the trial, is the jury. And whether his emotion in that moment was authentic or strategic, the message to the jury seemed pretty clear: How dare she talk about my family?

Family. It’s a word that has come up repeatedly among Mr. Trump’s defenders, as they try to convince jurors that any action by Mr. Trump was not to break the law or influence an election but to protect his family. Throughout the trial, which is expected to resume on Thursday with Ms. Daniels’s continued cross-examination, Mr. Trump’s team has tried to paint the former president as a loving husband and father. In doing so, they are trying to convince jurors that Mr. Trump cares about his wife and children more than anything else — including his money or his reputation. The idea of “Donald Trump, family man” is one that jurors have to buy, or not.

His team sure is trying. “He’s not just our former president,” his lawyer argued during the trial’s opening statements. “He’s a husband. He’s a father. And he’s a person — just like you and just like me.” (Mr. Trump has denied the charges and says he did not have sex with Ms. Daniels.)

But consider me, um, skeptical.

Mr. Trump’s ability to have any relationship beyond the transactional is one of the great mysteries about him, and the current evidence on the matter is mixed. There have been moments in the trial that have emphasized that Mr. Trump thinks and acts like a family man — or, at least, that it’s all in the family and he’s the head of it. Hope Hicks, his former communications director, detailed last week how the Trump Organization was run “like a small family business,” and how, after a 2016 article in The Wall Street Journal detailed an alleged affair with a former Playboy model, Karen McDougal, Mr. Trump was most concerned about his wife — and asked Ms. Hicks to hide the newspapers from her. (What’s more honorable than a husband going to great lengths to conceal his affair?)

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