Former US President Donald Trump greets his supporters as he comes from his second civil trial after E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her decades ago, in front of a Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, USA, 25 January 2024.
Eduardo Munoz | Reuters
Update: Jury decides Trump must pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in defamation damages
Former President Donald Trump testified for just three minutes in E. Jean Carroll’s civil sexual libel lawsuit against him in New York federal court on Thursday.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who had limited Trump to answering a handful of pre-approved questions, struck much of the former president’s answers from the record.
Before Trump was called in, Kaplan warned him and his lawyers that Trump could not appeal the verdict in another trial in which he was responsible for sexually abusing Carroll in the mid-1990s and then defaming the writer in 2019, when he was imprisoned White House was held liable.
When defense attorney Alina Habba asked whether Trump had denied Carroll’s allegations to defend himself, Trump said, “I think it’s a false accusation.”
Kaplan suggested this answer.
Asked if he ever directed anyone to hurt Carroll, Trump replied: “No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family and, frankly, the presidency.”
Kaplan suggested all of these answers except the word “no.”
Trump also testified that he stands by the answers he gave in an October 2022 statement in which he called the case “rigged” and “a made-up story.”
Former US President Donald Trump testifies as he testifies on January 25 in Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, USA, in the second civil trial in which E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her decades ago U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan takes the stand. 2024 in this court sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Before Trump took the stand, Kaplan ordered his campaign spokesman, Steven Cheung, out of court because his phone rang during another witness’ testimony.
“Whose phone is that?” Kaplan snapped before promptly removing Cheung from the courtroom.
The defense rested its case shortly after Trump’s testimony ended. Closing arguments in the trial are scheduled to begin on Friday.
Trump had previously watched as excerpts of his testimony were shown in court.
In the statement, Trump confused a photo of Carroll with his ex-wife Marla Maples, even though he had claimed elsewhere that Carroll was “not my type” and that he had never met her.
From left: former President Donald Trump, E. Jean Carroll, John Johnson and Ivana Trump at an NBC party, late 1980s.
Source: US District Court in Manhattan
The photo shows Carroll and her then-husband, former broadcast journalist John Johnson, talking to Trump and his first wife, Ivana Trump.
“I was given a lot of false reports. This is one of them,” Trump said in the deposition, which was recorded by Carroll’s lawyer three years after the author alleged that the former president raped her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s.
It was “a fake story, a false story, a made-up story,” Trump said. “The Russia-Russia-Russia hoax. It turned out to be a hoax. Ukraine Ukraine Ukraine hoax. The hoax over the Mueller situation for two and a half years ended without consultation. It was a really big scam. The lie to FISA.” Court fraud, the oft-repeated lie to Congress by all these people, the scum we have in our country, the fraud lying to Congress, the fraud spying on my campaign.”
“This was another hoax and I could get a whole list of them. And this is also a hoax… this ridiculous situation we are experiencing right now. It’s a big fat scam.”
“She is a liar and a sick person in my opinion. Actually ill. There’s something wrong with her,” Trump said of Carroll.
The videos were shown after Carroll’s lawyers questioned their final witness, former Elle magazine editor-in-chief Roberta Myers. Carroll previously wrote an advice column for Elle.
The videos marked the end of Carroll’s main case.
Before calling their first defense witness, Trump’s lawyers discussed with Kaplan presenting evidence allegedly linking George Soros, a billionaire philanthropist and frequent target of conspiracy theories, to Carroll’s bills.
“The door is locked,” Kaplan replied.
Carol Martin, a former New York news anchor and friend of Carroll, then took the stand.
Former US President Donald Trump watches as his lawyer Alina Habba questions former New York TV news anchor Carol Martin during the second civil trial in which E. Jean Carroll accused former US President Donald Trump of raping her decades ago have, before the Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, USA, January 25, 2024 in this court sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
Martin has previously testified that Carroll confided in her about Trump’s alleged sexual assaults. Trump lawyer Alina Habba approached Martin as a hostile witness on Thursday, questioning her about Carroll’s social life and alleged publicity-seeking behavior.
At one point, Martin told Habba that she attended about a half-dozen parties hosted by Carroll and attended by journalists related to Carroll’s two civil lawsuits against Trump.
Trump was originally scheduled to take the witness stand on Monday, but the trial was postponed after a juror called in sick.
Kaplan gave Habba the chance to continue the case that day with eight jurors instead of nine, but Habba declined, telling Kaplan that she was also feeling ill.
Habba attended Trump’s victory party in New Hampshire on Tuesday night after defeating Nikki Haley in that state’s primary.
On Thursday, jurors were held at a distance for health reasons. Five of the nine jurors wore masks.
Trump has linked his ongoing presidential campaign to his legal battles against Carroll, the New York attorney general, and three different prosecutors.
E. Jean Carroll walks in Manhattan federal court for the second civil trial after she accused former U.S. President Donald Trump of raping her decades ago, in New York City, U.S., January 25, 2024.
Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters
The former president has attended trials in New York in recent weeks even though he was not required to do so, drawing widespread media attention and new fundraising opportunities for his campaign.
Trump claims all of his legal battles are witch hunts orchestrated by President Joe Biden and other Democrats to harm his presidential candidacy.
A jury in a related civil case filed by Carroll found Trump liable last year for sexually abusing the writer at a New York department store in the 1990s and then defaming her in statements made while denouncing her allegations in late 2022 rejected.
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That jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million. Trump is appealing the verdict.
The ongoing trial is being conducted solely to determine how much Trump must pay Carroll in damages for defaming her in statements he made while he was president in 2019 and denying her account.
Kaplan had previously ruled that Trump was liable for her defamation based on the jury verdict in the previous trial, which involved similar statements.
Carroll’s lawyers are seeking at least $10 million in damages from Trump in this case.