E. Jean Carroll seeks damages from Trump in defamation case

Former President Donald Trump effectively lost his second defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll before a single juror has been selected, but several questions still hover over the pending federal civil trial that starts on Tuesday.

The only one formally before a jury of Trump’s peers is: How much more money will they award Carroll? 

In a separate trial last spring, a different federal jury in the Southern District of New York found that Trump sexually abused Carroll in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s — and then defamed her by insulting her when she came forward decades later. The jury unanimously awarded Carroll a $5 million judgment, in a landmark ruling that’s now under appeal. 

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan found that the previous jury’s findings resolved the factual record on Carroll’s remaining case, which relates to Trump’s initial denials of Carroll’s rape allegations in 2019, while he was still president. 

“She’s not my type,” Trump said nearly half a decade ago, a line he repeated many times later. 

That claim came under heavy fire during Trump’s videotaped deposition, where he confused a photograph of Carroll with a picture of his ex-wife Marla Maples. The footage of Trump’s pre-trial deposition was the closest jurors came to seeing the former president, who skipped the entirety of that trial. 

In a civil case, the defendant’s attendance is optional, but Trump attacked the proceedings from afar, complaining about the trial on his social media platform Truth Social. 

"You're gonna see," Trump said Monday night in Iowa just before the state's GOP caucuses in response to being asked if he'd be speaking at the trial. He suggested as much last week too..

"I’m going to go to [the Carroll v. Trump trial], and I’m going to explain I don’t know who the hell she is,” he said last Thursday in a contention that a previous federal jury rejected.

For Trump, the problem is that the judge explicitly prohibited him from claiming that in court. 

Carroll’s lead attorney Roberta Kaplan — who shares a surname with but is not related to the judge — wants Trump to face contempt of court if he tries to repeat his denials before the jury. She also proposed having Trump’s lawyers face professional discipline if they allow their client to “sow chaos” and turn the trial into a “circus.” 

Given the narrow nature of the case, Carroll’s lawyers question whether Trump should even be allowed to testify. It remains unclear that the former president will try to take the stand, and whether the judge will let him. 

During his recent civil fraud case, Trump repeatedly turned the courtroom into a forum to air his grievances against the legal system. Trump received his first gag order after spreading what the judge described as “disparaging” and “untrue” rumors about his principal law clerk — and then was sanctioned twice for continuing to complain about her. 

After a judge revoked permission for Trump to deliver closing arguments on his own behalf, the former president launched into his speech anyway, without waiting for the court’s permission.

Manhattan Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron, who presided over that case, did not reprimand Trump over that behavior — despite fining him $15,000 for two violations of his gag orders and previously warning him that continuing to flout his orders could lead to jail time.

But that was a state court case. 

In federal court, Judge Kaplan has a tough reputation, and he personally charged an environmental lawyer with two criminal contempt of court charges, even after federal prosecutors refused to sign onto his referrals. He previously presided over the trial of cryptocurrency fraudster Sam Bankman-Fried, a sexual abuse lawsuit against Prince Andrew, and various high-profile terrorism cases, including U.S. embassy bomb plotter Ahmed Ghailani, the first Guantanamo detainee to be trial in a civilian court. 

If Trump decides to show up in Kaplan’s court, some legal experts predict he will find less latitude to violate court rules. 

“Having appeared before Judge Kaplan, he does not suffer fools at all, let alone gladly,” former federal prosecutor Mitchell Epner told The Messenger.

Jury selection will begin on Tuesday morning at 9:30 a.m. EST. 

Dan Butcher

Dan Butcher (aka HP Pundit) is not a Democrat or Republican. He is a free thinking independent bringing you news and commentary with a dose of much needed common sense.

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