A New York jury on Friday issued a directive for former President Donald Trump to allocate a total of $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll for damaging her credibility as an advice columnist. This followed his characterization of her as a liar subsequent to her accusation of sexual assault against him.
The jury granted Carroll $65 million in punitive damages, $11 million for harm to her reputation, and an additional $7.3 million. Trump is highly likely to contest the verdict.
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Despite the substantial penalty, the outcome was not surprising, given that Judge Lewis Kaplan had already ruled before the trial that Trump had indeed defamed Carroll. The jury’s role was solely to determine the amount owed to her, not to establish liability. This marks the second time Trump has been instructed to pay Carroll; the previous year, a jury mandated a $5 million payment for a separate defamation incident.
Responding to the verdict, the Trump 2024 campaign released a statement claiming, without presenting evidence, that the trial is a ‘political weapon.’
In their statement, they expressed, ‘Absolutely ridiculous! I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party.’
The jury’s decision comes shortly after Trump’s victory in the New Hampshire primary, solidifying his position as the GOP front-runner. This legal battle is one among several involving Trump, who also awaits a verdict in a civil trial that could result in a payment of at least $250 million to New York state for fraudulent business practices, as deemed by a judge.
There is the possibility of him being barred from conducting business in the state where he gained prominence as a real estate mogul. In total, Trump faces 91 charges in federal and state trials, spanning from those in New York to federal charges related to the Capitol riot on January 6.
The core of this matter
The 2019 case revolves around Carroll’s accusation that Trump sexually assaulted her in the ’90s. After the accusation was previewed in a New York magazine article, Trump issued two statements, including a denial, calling her ‘not my type.’ Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit, asserting that Trump’s comments tarnished her reputation as a trustworthy media source and led to threats and insults.
Initially, Trump’s Attorney General Bill Barr blocked the lawsuit, arguing that Trump’s comments were made in his official capacity as president. However, in 2023, Biden’s Justice Department allowed the defamation lawsuit to proceed. Considering the 2023 decision finding Trump liable for assault, Judge Kaplan ruled that Trump had defamed Carroll in 2019 and was legally responsible.
Insights from the testimony
During the trial, Carroll testified about the impact of Trump labeling her a liar, stating that it ‘ended the world I had been living in.’ She highlighted the significant decline in emails seeking advice and the increase in threats and insults. Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, argued against tracing damages directly to Trump and emphasized social media posts during the ‘gap’ between Carroll’s allegations being published and Trump’s comments.
Trump reiterated his claims of Carroll’s falsehoods
Trump, after weeks of promising to testify, did so briefly on January 25, standing by his previous deposition and denying instructing anyone to harm Carroll. He reiterated his defense of himself, his family, and his presidency.
Throughout the trial, Trump was present for several days and made comments outside the courtroom, asserting that the trial amounted to election interference, echoing claims similar to those for which he was being sued.”