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A jury finds that Trump must pay $83 million to E. Jean Carroll, a columnist, for defamation.
On Friday, a jury in New York found that former President Donald Trump owed E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in total for defaming her reputation as an advice columnist by calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.
Carroll received $7.3 million in additional damages, $11 million for reputational harm, and $65 million in punitive penalties from the jury. It’s highly likely that Trump will appeal the decision.
The verdict was predictable, even with the severity of the penalties. Even before to the trial, Judge Lewis Kaplan declared that Trump had in fact maligned Carroll. The jury’s task was to determine Trump’s debt to her, not whether or not he was responsible. This is the second time a jury has ordered Trump to pay Carroll; in the previous year, a jury ordered him to pay $5 million for another defamation case.
The Trump 2024 campaign responded by claiming in a statement that the trial is a “political weapon” without providing any supporting data.
The statement said, “Absolutely ridiculous!” “I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party.”
Only a few days have passed since Trump emerged victorious in the New Hampshire primary and assumed the lead in the GOP primary. Trump is facing other legal cases, including one in which he is awaiting a decision in a civil lawsuit that might force him to pay New York state at least $250 million for his business methods, which a judge has determined to be dishonest.
It might also be against the law for him to conduct business in the state where he first gained notoriety as a real estate tycoon. Trump is accused of 91 offenses total in federal and state prosecutions, ranging from those in New York to federal accusations connected to the Capitol incident on January 6.
What's at stake in this case
Carroll, a free-lance writer and advice columnist, accused Trump of sexually abusing her in the 1990s in 2019. The charge was initially revealed in a New York magazine article and was covered in full in her book. Following the article’s release, Trump responded to reporters with two responses, one of which categorically rejected her allegation and labeled her as “not my type.”
Carroll subsequently filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump, claiming that his remarks damaged her credibility as a reliable journalistic source and provoked a barrage of abuse and menacing letters, comments, and messages on her social media pages.
Bill Barr, Trump’s attorney general at the time, halted the case on the grounds that Trump had made the remarks while serving as president. The litigation was stalled in court for a number of years as a result of this.
In 2023, the Biden Justice Department changed its mind and permitted the first defamation lawsuit to proceed. Judge Kaplan determined that Trump had defamed Carroll in 2019 and that the former president was also accountable, partly because to the 2023 ruling that had found Trump responsible for assault.
Carroll, who attended the first few days of the trial, was the first witness to take the stand and confront Trump directly.
Politics: Trump is back in a New York courtroom for the second phase of the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial.
Trump is back in court in New York for his second defamation trial involving E. Jean Carroll.
Trump calling Carroll a liar, Carroll said in court, “ended the world I had been living in.”
She claimed that she no longer received hundreds of emails a month requesting guidance for her column, down from hundreds in the past. Rather, she claimed to have received insults and threats. The jury was shown by Carroll’s attorney a number of emails, messages, and social media posts that Carroll received in the days that followed Trump’s remarks.
“I filed a lawsuit to regain my reputation,” Carroll stated.
Alina Habba, Trump’s attorney, countered that Trump should not be held personally liable for the damages. Habba also showed the jury a number of social media posts, but they were made during the “gap” of five hours that occurred between the publication of Carroll’s charges and the remarks made by Trump that are the subject of Carroll’s lawsuit.
Habba questioned Carroll’s motivation for suing and for removing threats that were sent to her email, while also highlighting the positive responses and support Carroll received for her allegation.
Trump intensified his accusations that Carroll is dishonest.
Trump eventually took the witness stand in his defense on January 25, having vowed for weeks to do so. However, it lasted for just a few minutes.
He stated in his evidence that he “100%” agreed with his earlier deposition. When asked by his attorney if he had ever given orders to harm Carroll, Trump said that he had never done so and that his only goals were to protect his family, the presidency, and himself.
In addition to giving testimony, Trump attended the trial for a number of days and spoke out on the issue outside of court.
Judge Kaplan chastised him for remarks he made when Carroll was testifying on the opening day of the trial. Carroll’s attorneys raised the possibility that the jurors might hear him as well, pointing out repeatedly that they could. Kaplan threatened to revoke Trump’s permission to attend.
In addition, Trump expressed his opinion that this trial is about election meddling to reporters in New York and at campaign events in Iowa and New Hampshire. He frequently reiterated allegations that were the subject of his lawsuit.