Jury to Decide Damages in Trump Defamation Case – On Wednesday, a U.S. federal judge, Lewis Kaplan, ruled that in the upcoming civil defamation case against former President Donald Trump, the jury’s task will be to determine the additional compensation owed to a longtime New York advice columnist, E. Jean Carroll.
This decision comes after a previous federal jury had already concluded that Trump sexually abused Carroll in a luxury department store dressing room in the 1990s, albeit rejecting her rape claim. In that earlier case, Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million for both the abuse and defamation. Trump, currently a leading Republican candidate for the 2024 presidential nomination, has appealed this verdict and denies the allegations.
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Initially, when Carroll, a former college cheerleader and Elle magazine advice columnist, filed her lawsuit, Trump claimed not to know her and suggested he wouldn’t have been interested in her because she wasn’t his type. However, a photograph presented during the trial showed them interacting at a New York party from decades ago.
The first trial specifically revolved around the sexual assault accusation that allegedly occurred after a chance encounter between Carroll, who is now 79, and Trump at the Bergdorf-Goodman department store in New York, where he asked for her assistance in choosing a gift for another woman.
In Wednesday’s decision, Kaplan wrote, “The jury considered and decided issues that are common to both cases — including whether Mr. Trump falsely accused Ms. Carroll of fabricating her sexual assault charge and, if that were so, that he did it with knowledge that this accusation was false” or acted with reckless disregard for the truth.
“The truth or falsity of Mr. Trump’s 2019 statements therefore depends on whether Ms. Carroll lied about Mr. Trump sexually assaulting her,” Kaplan said. “The jury’s finding that she did not therefore is binding in [the defamation] case and precludes Mr. Trump from contesting the falsity of his 2019 statements.”
Although Carroll’s suit was filed in 2019, the judge in June allowed her lawyers to add the statements Trump made against her at a CNN town hall political event that was broadcast the night after he lost the abuse case in May. “This woman, I don’t know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is,” Trump said. “She’s a whack job.”
Carroll lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, said Carroll looks forward to a trial “limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made.” Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, expressed confidence that the jury’s verdict will be reversed, rendering the judge’s recent decision irrelevant. This civil case is just one of the various legal challenges Trump is currently confronting in the upcoming months. He is facing four criminal cases, totaling 91 charges.
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These include two cases related to attempts to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden, another concerning his handling of highly classified national security documents after leaving office in 2021, and a fourth case involving alleged falsification of business records to conceal $130,000 in hush money payments to a pornographic film star before his successful 2016 presidential campaign.