U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, the federal judge overseeing former President Trump’s defamation trial brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll, threatened to send Trump attorney Alina Habba to jail after she interrupted him during Friday’s proceedings.
“You are on the verge of spending some time in the lockup. Now sit down,” Kaplan told Habba during closing arguments.
The moment came minutes after Friday’s proceedings began and took place just before the jury entered the room for the day.
The parties were arguing over a slide Trump’s team wanted to show as part of their presentation that Carroll did not prove a causal link between Trump’s denials he sexually assaulted the columnist and the emotional and reputational harms she says she suffered.
Much of Habba’s arguments focused on what she described as a “five-hour gap” between when Carroll’s accusation surfaced in 2019 and when Trump issued his first statement ruled defamatory in the case.
The slide included an array of tweets purportedly sent to Carroll attacking her before Trump’s statement went out, an attempt to show that the later threats the columnist received couldn’t be attributable to the then-president’s later comments.
The slide did not visibly show the tweets’ substance, but Kaplan did not allow it to be shown because the tweets had not been entered into evidence.
After Kaplan wouldn’t allow Habba to present the slide, she continued talking, saying she wanted to make a record of her argument, which prompted the judge’s threat.
Carroll is suing Trump for defamation over his 2019 denials that he sexually abused her in the 1990s. Last year, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and had to award Carroll $5 million.
She now is seeking more than $24 million in damages for Trump’s denials.
Trump, who has made a point of showing up to the trial despite not required to be there, walked out of the courtroom Friday minutes later, just after Carroll’s lawyer began closing remarks.
Habba and the judge have regularly sparred, with the judge repeatedly scolding the lawyer and Habba often shaking her head in disagreement. Trump has portrayed the judge as biased against him.
Closing remarks in the Carroll trial finished Friday, then the jury headed into deliberations over how much Trump owes Carroll shortly before 2 p.m.