Donald Trump’s legal team accused E. Jean Carroll of actively seeking publicity on Wednesday, while she expressed the profound damage to her reputation following her allegations of sexual assault against him in the 1990s.
The second day of the civil defamation trial was marked by intense confrontations, including a moment when the judge warned of potentially expelling .Mr. Trump was threatened with removal from the courtroom after he was heard criticizing Carroll’s testimony.
Despite a previous jury holding Mr. Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation last year, with Ms. Carroll being awarded $5 million, the former president vehemently denies the accusations. The initial trial was based on his 2022 comments dismissing her story as a “con job” and a “hoax.”
The current proceedings center on different defamatory remarks made by Trump in 2019 while he was president, when he labeled Carroll’s allegation as “totally false.” This second trial aims to determine additional damages.
Wednesday’s proceedings were characterized by heated exchanges between Trump and the judge. The judge threatened to revoke Trump’s right to attend the trial after he was heard calling the case a “witch hunt” and criticizing Carroll’s memory, prompting the judge to address the former president directly.
“Mr. Trump has the right to be present here,” Judge Kaplan asserted, frustration evident in his voice. “That right can be forfeited if he is disruptive, as reported to me, and if he disregards court orders.”
Addressing Trump directly, Judge Kaplan expressed hope that exclusion from the trial would not be necessary, to which Trump replied, “I would love it.” The judge retorted, “I understand you’re probably very eager for me to do that because you just can’t control yourself in these circumstances.”
For Trump, accustomed to bombastic political attacks, facing the subject of his ire remained a rare occurrence on Wednesday. Ms. Carroll, 80, shared her account with the jury, detailing how Trump’s actions had damaged her reputation, leaving her labeled as a “liar, fraud, and whack job.”
“I am here to get my reputation back and to stop him from telling lies about me,” she declared, concluding a day of impassioned testimonies and courtroom drama.
Attorneys representing Ms. Carroll presented a disturbing array of death threats, rape threats, and insults that she claims to have received since stepping forward with her allegations.
One menacing message instructed her to “stick a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger,” while another branded her a “Satan-worshipping Nazi” — a barrage of abuse that left her feeling profoundly threatened.
Given the gravity of these safety concerns, Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, inquired about a photograph showing her smiling alongside a man wearing a rubber Trump mask as they walked past Trump Tower in Manhattan. In response, Ms. Carroll explained that the substantial police presence in the area made her feel secure.
Seated two rows back with his legal team, Mr. Trump attentively listened, fixating on Ms. Carroll and shaking his head at certain moments.
During the subsequent cross-examination, Trump’s legal representatives launched a vigorous offensive. Alina Habba, representing Mr. Trump, sought to establish that Ms. Carroll sought fame, pointing to her numerous television and podcast appearances discussing her book and the allegations.
Ms. Habba highlighted Ms. Carroll’s continued interviews about the case she won the previous year. “After all those appearances, you want to gain more publicity, don’t you?” questioned Ms. Habba.
Ms. Carroll countered, expressing her reluctance to keep discussing the matter and revealing that while she disliked saying Mr. Trump’s name, interviewers consistently pressed her on the subject. The courtroom tension escalated as Ms. Carroll defended her actions against the insinuation that she was seeking unwarranted attention.
As the afternoon session of the court commenced, the simmering tension between Mr. Trump, his legal team, and the judge reignited when they requested the recusal of Mr. Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, citing “general hostility toward the defense.” The motion was swiftly denied.
Throughout the day, Ms. Habba found herself in repeated clashes with the judge. She sought a trial delay, arguing that it would be “insanely prejudicial” for Mr. Trump to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral on Thursday while sitting in court.
“The request is rejected. I will entertain no additional arguments on this matter,” pronounced Judge Kaplan firmly. “None. Do you comprehend that term? None.
In the earlier trial where Mr. Trump was deposed, he did not appear in person or testify. However, in the current proceedings, he is voluntarily taking the stand and is expected to do so on Monday.
After court on Wednesday, the former president expressed his frustration at the denial, labeling Judge Kaplan as “a nasty man” and a “Trump-hating guy.”
“It’s a disgrace, frankly, what’s happening. It’s a disgrace, [he] happens to be a [President] Clinton appointment, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with it,” Trump asserted.
Amidst a legal landscape that includes 91 felony charges across four criminal cases and an ongoing New York civil fraud trial, Mr. Trump currently holds the position of the Republican frontrunner for the presidency. His recent victory in the Iowa caucuses on Monday further solidified his standing in the race to become the Republican party’s candidate for the White House.