E. Jean Carroll testifies after ex-president, decide conflict

E. Jean Carroll enters Manhattan Federal Court, in 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 18, 2024. 

Shannon Stapleton | Reuters

A federal judge Thursday quickly lost patience with Donald Trump’s lawyer as she grilled E. Jean Carroll on her income and social media history as part of the former president’s civil defamation trial.

“Come on, this is Evidence 101!” said the judge, Lewis Kaplan, in response to defense lawyer Alina Habba’s questions about how much money Carroll currently makes.

Kaplan also said Habba was being “repetitious” by reciting a long list of posts on X, formerly Twitter, attacking Carroll in 2019 shortly after she first publicly accused Trump of raping her decades earlier.

The trial in Manhattan federal court is being conducted to determine damages Carroll is owed by Trump for defamatory statements he made after she aired that rape claim.

Carroll also denied Habba’s suggestion that her status and reputation may have improved in recent years. The author and columnist said she was suing Trump to get her old reputation back.

Kaplan’s impatience with Habba’s cross-examination came a day after Trump clashed with the the judge in open court.

Trump was absent from the courtroom for the second day of Carroll’s testimony. Instead, he was in Palm Beach, Florida, to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law, Amalija Knavs.

Kaplan had previously rejected a request by Trump’s lawyer to delay the trial for a week so that Trump could go to the funeral without missing a day of testimony.

On Wednesday, Kaplan warned Trump that he could be kicked out of the courtroom for making “disruptive” outbursts during Carroll’s testimony.

Trump, 77, shook his hands in the air and shot back, “I would love it.”

The judge replied, “I know you would. You just can’t control yourself in these circumstances, apparently.”

E. Jean Carroll testifies before Judge Lewis Kaplan as former U.S. President Donald Trump watches, during the second civil trial where Carroll accused Trump of raping her decades ago, at Manhattan Federal Court in New York City, U.S., January 17, 2024 in this courtroom sketch. 

Jane Rosenberg | Reuters

The tense exchange came after an attorney for Carroll complained that Trump’s comments, such as calling the trial a “witch hunt” and a “con job,” could be heard by the jurors.

Carroll, 80, had testified in Trump’s presence that he raped her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s, then defamed her after she came forward with the accusation in 2019, when he was president.

She testified that his lies “shattered my reputation.”

“To have the president of the United States, one of the most powerful persons on earth, calling me a liar for three days and saying I’m a liar 26 times — I counted them — it ended the world that I had been living in,” Carroll said on the witness stand Wednesday.

The trial is the second to center on Carroll’s claims of assault and defamation by Trump.

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A jury last year in a separate but closely related civil trial found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million. Trump is appealing that verdict.

Ahead of the current trial, Kaplan ruled that Carroll defamation claims against Trump had already been proven, and that the trial would focus solely on deciding the amount owed in damages.

Carroll’s lawyers are asking for at least $10 million in damages in this case.

The former president, who faces dozens of criminal charges in four separate courts in addition to multiple civil cases, has turned his legal strife into a key feature of his 2024 presidential campaign. He is currently the clear frontrunner for the GOP nomination.

After leaving court on Wednesday, Trump headed to New Hampshire for a campaign event. He hopes to clean up in the Granite State’s GOP primary election next week, repeating his landslide victory in Monday’s Iowa caucuses.

This is developing news. Please check back for updates.

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