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

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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

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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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