A New York jury ruled on Friday that Donald Trump must pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in total damages for repeatedly defaming her after she accused him of sexual assault.
Trump, the frontrunner to win the Republican nomination for president, must pay the author $7.3 million in compensatory damages, $11 million in reputation repair damages, and $65 million in putative damages. Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million in a separate defamation ruling last May.
Carroll has now twice successfully sued Trump in civil court. All of the former president’s rantings and ravings about Carroll online and at his rallies did little more than strengthen the plaintiff’s argument that the former president had continued to defame Caroll [with malice] after having previously been found liable for defamation, as well as for sexually assaulting Carroll in the ‘90s.
The jury deliberated for a little less than three hours after a tense day during Friday’s closing arguments. “My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury,” Judge Lewis Kaplan told jurors after the verdict was handed down, ostensibly warning them of potential retaliation from the former president and his supporters.
Carroll left the court room after the ruling without speaking to reporters. Trump was not in court at the time the verdict came down. He made clear on Truth Social that he was not happy. “Absolutely ridiculous!” he wrote. “I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party. Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”
Carroll in 2019 accused Trump of assault, alleging that the former president raped her in the dressing room of New York’s Bergdorf Goodman department store in the ‘90s. Originally, Carroll filed a defamation suit over statements Trump made about her in the aftermath of her accusation. In 2022, she filed a separate lawsuit alleging additional defamatory statements by Trump, and a charge of battery under New York’s Adult Survivors Act. In the trial that took place last year, litigating her 2022 lawsuit, Trump declined to attend or even present a defense and was found liable on both counts.
The jury’s decision, in that case, was the basis for Judge Kaplan’s decision that the current trial — covering Carroll’s original 2019 suit — would operate under a default judgment establishing Trump’s liability, and focus only on determining the damages owed to Carroll.
On Thursday, Trump took the witness stand to submit to an extremely brief round of questioning and cross-examination. Despite spending only three minutes on the stand, the former president still managed to break Judge Kaplan’s explicit prohibition on statements casting doubt on the veracity of Carroll’s accusations twice.
Shortly before closing arguments began on Friday, Judge Kaplan sparred with Trump attorney Alina Habba, threatening that she was “on the verge of spending some time in the lockup” after Habba repeatedly attempted to have extraneous social media posts attacking Carroll introduced into evidence despite the judge’s repeated denials.
Throughout the trial, Judge Kaplan has repeatedly reprimanded Trump for making audible comments reacting to testimony from witnesses while the jury was present in the room. Last week, Kaplan threatened to have the former president kicked out of the chamber if he did not control himself. On Friday, Trump wound up storming out of the courtroom in the middle of closing arguments from Carroll’s attorneys.
The former president later wrote on Truth Social that Judge Kaplan “is refusing me my Constitutional Right to Due Process, to defend myself against this False Accusation. This is a one-sided trial, where the other side is allowed everything, and we are allowed nothing. He is an extremely abusive individual, the likes of which few have seen before!”
Trump had repeatedly maligned Carroll before her 2022 lawsuit went to trial, but in the aftermath of the verdict his attack on the author became obsessive. The day after the jury found him liable for assault, Trump raged at Carroll during a CNN town hall, repeating statements that had already been deemed defamatory by the court. Carroll would leverage the president’s outburst into a request for an additional $10 million in damages in Friday’s verdict.
Trump’s attorneys repeatedly sparred with Judge Kaplan over their attempts to engineer excuses to delay proceedings so the trial would not conflict with the former president’s efforts to campaign in early primary states. And while Trump claimed to have an extremely busy schedule, he had plenty of time to rage online. Virtually every day of the trial, Trump preempted his in-court appearances with frantic posting sprees on social media, sometimes shooting off upwards of 30 posts about her in the span of a few hours.
But Trump’s near-constant protestations since Caroll first came forward — and his consistent streams of attacks against her throughout the trial —- engineered little sympathy with jurors, Carroll’s attorney instead turned them around to their advantage.
As Carroll’s attorney said in closing arguments: “This is her life. Help her take it back. Make him stop. Make him pay enough so that he will stop.”
It seems the jurors took that to heart.
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