Narrative of Trump snoozing in court takes hold — much to his annoyance


It’s unclear if Donald Trump has actually been sleeping, and he vehemently denies it. But Democrats and late-night hosts have seized on the reports anyway.

By Ashley Parker

May 11, 2024 at 6:00 a.m. EDT

Late-night hosts mock Trump sleeping in court


Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Jimmy Fallon and Seth Meyers in recent weeks have asked why former president Donald Trump keeps falling asleep during his trial. (Video: JM Rieger/The Washington Post)


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“Don Snoreleone.” “Donnie Nappleseed.” “Sleepy Don.”

In addition to the actual testimony from Donald Trump’s Manhattan hush money trial — some of it gripping, some of it sordid — a secondary storyline is emerging: that of a former president who just can’t stay awake.

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“The Trump campaign also pushed back on reports that he fell asleep in court yesterday,” comedian Jimmy Kimmel joked on his late-night show, “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” “They said that was Fake Snooze.”

It remains unclear if Trump has actually fallen asleep during his trial — he and his team have vigorously rejected the claim. But a narrative has taken hold nonetheless that Trump, who often sits in court with his eyes closed, may also deserve the moniker that he has bestowed upon President Biden: “Sleepy.”

Democrats and Republicans alike say the image of a tired Trump is unlikely to have meaningful political ramifications, in part because many voters are not locked into the nuances of the trial and because, for nearly a decade, he has portrayed himself as an energetic strongman. But since the trial started in mid-April, thedozy portrayal has irritated Trump, delighted gleeful Democrats, and provided plenty of fodder for late-night TV hosts and comedians.

CBS “Late Show” host Stephen Colbert dubbed the alleged courtroom siestas a “white power nap.”

On “Saturday Night Live” last weekend, “Weekend Update” host Colin Jost displayed a photo of Trump — hunched slightly forward, eyes fully closed — and deadpanned, “Former president Donald Trump seen here definitely not sleeping. He’s probably just praying.”

In a Telemundo Miami interview Thursday, Trump pushed back on the claims, arguing that “for a big portion of trials, you just close your eyes and listen” and that he, in particular, hears everything “perfectly.”

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