After Donald Trump repeatedly loudly complained about E Jean Carroll’s testimony in a second defamation trial against the former president, the federal judge overseeing the case in New York warned he could remove him from the courtroom for his outbursts.
Mr Trump ignored several warnings from US District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Wednesday after he could be heard calling the case a “witch hunt” and a “con job” as he watched Ms Carroll’s testimony, which detailed the daily abuse and death threats she has received as a result of the former president’s ongoing defamatory statements about her.
“Mr Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which what has been reported to me consists of,” the judge said. “I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial.”
Mr Trump then tossed up his hands, telling the judge “I would love it.”
“I know you would,” Judge Kaplan replied. “You just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently.”
The latest courtroom outburst from Mr Trump, who is not obligated to attend the trial, follows a series of gag orders in his civil fraud case that were upheld after his derogatory comments about the court’s chief clerk sparked a wave of credible death threats.
The former president also defied the judge overseeing that case by lashing out from the defence table during closing arguments last week. He also lambasted the judge, the state attorney general suing him, the state lawyer questioning him, and the case itself when he appeared on the witness stand during that trial last year.
Mr Trump has relied on a growing list of criminal indictments and lawsuits against him for his campaign for the 2024 Republican nomination for president, casting himself as a victim of political persecution and baselessly asserting that the cases are a Democratic-led conspiracy to keep him away from the White House.
Following Judge Kaplan’s warning, Mr Trump wrote on his Truth Social that he has an “obligation to be at every moment of this ridiculous trial, because we have a seething and hostile” judge “who suffers from a major case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.”
“He is abusive, rude, and obviously not impartial but, that’s the way the crooked system works!” he wrote.
A jury will determine monetary damages owed to Ms Carroll, a former Elle magazine writer whom Mr Trump repeatedly defamed by calling her a liar and denying that he sexually assaulted her. Ms Carroll is seeking $10m in compensatory damages and punitive damages.
The facts in the case have already been established; Mr Trump is barred from disputing that he sexually abused her, and a judge’s pretrial ruling has already found him liable for defamation, leaving a narrow trial to determine how much he should pay, if anything.
Earlier on Wednesday, while jurors were not in the room, Ms Carroll’s attorney Shawn Crowley told the judge that Mr Trump was loudly dismissing Ms Carroll’s testimony as “false”.
Before the jury returned, Judge Kaplan asked Mr Trump “to take special care to keep his voice down so the jury does not overhear it.”
The request didn’t appear to stick, teeing up the judge’s warning before a brief break for lunch.
Before the jury returned to the courtroom, Mr Trump’s attorney Michael Madaio demanded that the judge recuse himself from the case.
“Denied,” the judge replied.