Trump testifies in his defense in a defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll for less than three minutes

(Yuki Iwamura/Associated Press)

Trump testifies in his defense in a defamation lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll for less than three minutes


January 25, 2024

Former President Trump was on and off, the witness stood in less than three minutes at a jury trial Thursday, but not before breaking the judge’s rules on what he could say by claiming that a writer’s sexual abuse allegations were a were a false accusation and that he wanted to defend himself and the presidency.

Judge Lewis A. Kaplan quickly instructed jurors to ignore comments from Trump, who did not look at the jury as he approached the witness stand, tested or stepped down.

Once the jury left, Trump complained about the proceedings as he was almost out the door. He turned his head and shook it as he looked back at a packed room and said, This isn’t America. This isn’t America. This isn’t America.

Kaplan imposed limits on Trump’s pre-trial testimony, noting that the new jurors had to accept an earlier jury’s finding that Trump had sexually assaulted advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in the dressing room of a luxury Manhattan department store in 1996 and slandered her with comments. in 2022.

The earlier jury awarded Carroll $5 million during a trial in Manhattan that Trump did not attend. Kaplan instructed this jury to consider only what additional damages, if any, Trump must pay to Carroll. Her attorney had sought $10 million in compensatory damages, and significantly more in punitive damages.

During his brief tests on Thursday, as Carroll watched with her lawyers, Trump answered questions from his attorney, Alina Habba. She told the judge beforehand that her questions were intended to make clear that Trump was sticking to an October 2022 statement in which he denied Carroll’s claims and called her an asshole and sick.

Habba said she also wanted to show that Trump did not intend for anyone to harm Carroll.

She said something that I considered a false accusation, Trump said from the stand. An attorney for Carroll objected, and the judge told jurors to ignore the comment.

Trump later said: And I just wanted to defend myself, my family and, quite frankly, the presidency. That also provoked an objection and a new instruction from the judge to the jury to ignore it.

Carroll claims Trump ruined her reputation after she first publicly accused him in a memoir of sexually assaulting her in the spring of 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store across the street from Trump Tower.

Trump, 77, has denied the allegations for the past five years and continues to assassinate Carroll, 80, during his campaign as he seeks the presidency as the Republican Party’s frontrunner.

The current trial, which already included testimony from Carroll, focuses only on statements Trump made in June 2019 when he was president. Those claims had been delayed for four years by appeals.

Shortly after Habba announced, outside the presence of the jury, that her client would testify, Trump could be heard saying out loud: I never met the woman. I don’t know who the woman is. I wasn’t at the trial.

That comment prompted Kaplan to respond: I’m sorry, Mr. Trump. You interrupt this procedure. … That’s not allowed.

Habba told the federal judge that Trump was her last witness after a lunch break and that she would be briefed.

I want to know everything he’s going to say, Kaplan told Habba.

Kaplan reminded lawyers and Trump of the limitations he had placed on his testimony.

Trump’s lawyers began his defense Thursday with the expectation that he would be called as a witness to challenge the lawsuit.

Trump’s testimony was announced after Carroll’s lawyers wrapped up presenting their case by showing jurors clips of him saying at a Jan. 17 campaign rally that Carroll’s claims were a fabricated, fabricated story and a 2022 statement in which she was mocked as a liar and a very sick person.

Trump attended the trial for two or three days last week and let the jury know through outspoken comments and gestures, such as shaking his head, that he was disgusted by the case against him.

After Carroll’s lawyers rested Thursday, Habba asked for a directed verdict in Trump’s favor, saying it was clear from Carroll’s testimony that there was insufficient evidence to allow the jury to seek damages.

Your Honor, Ms. Carroll has not proven her case, period, she said. Kaplan denied the request.

Before resting, Carroll’s attorneys called a single witness, Roberta Myers, who testified that Carroll was a truth-teller, an accomplished writer with a long history of unleashing a tremendous amount of empathy and a great sense of humor in her popular monthly advice column while Myers was editor-in-chief of Elle magazine from 2000 to 2017.

It was after her testimony that Carroll’s lawyers showed the videos, including portions of Trump’s October 2022 statement in which he denied knowing who Carroll was.

In an excerpt from his statement, he misidentified Carroll as his ex-wife, Marla Maples.

Trump, fresh off his victories in the New Hampshire primary Tuesday and the Iowa caucuses last week, appeared relatively subdued in court before his testimony, compared to his appearances last week. He usually stared straight ahead, expressionless, although he appeared to move his lips with the movement of his mouth in the video in which he claimed the trial was rigged.

The trial had been suspended since early Monday due to the illness of a juror. When it resumed Thursday, the judge said two jurors were socially distant from the others in the jury box.

Even before the test, Trump had tested the judge’s patience. After complaining to his lawyers last week about a witch hunt and a scam within earshot of jurors, Kaplan threatened to throw him out of the courtroom if it happened again. “I would love it,” Trump said. Later that day, Trump said at a press conference that Kaplan was an annoying judge.”

Trump’s lawyers have tried to show the jury through their cross-examination of witnesses that Carroll has achieved a level of fame and financial rewards by taking on Trump that outweighs the death threats and other venom leveled at her through social media applauded.

The current trial is in addition to the four criminal cases Trump is facing as the presidential primary season gets underway. He is juggling court and appearance campaigns, using both to claim he is being persecuted by Democrats terrified of his possible election.


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