Donald Trump asks for new trial in E. Jean Carroll case

 March 6, 2024

Donald Trump wants a do-over in the E. Jean Carroll case after the judge placed prejudicial restrictions on what Trump could tell the jury. 

Carroll accuses Trump of raping her in a New York department store in the 1990s. She successfully sued Trump for defamation after he called her a liar.

A New York jury found Trump liable last year for defamation and sexual assault, but not rape, and ordered him to pay $5 million. A second jury in January ordered Trump to pay Carroll another $83 million.

Trump muzzled during trial

The second trial was limited to deciding how much Trump would pay in damages, after the judge, Lewis Kaplan, told the jury they were bound by the first jury's finding that Trump was liable for assault.

The judge did not distinguish between sexual assault and rape, saying it is "substantially true" that Trump raped Carroll despite the jury's finding that he did not.

As a result, Trump was not allowed to deny the rape during the second trial, where he was limited to answering two questions. Kaplan sustained an objection from Carroll's lawyer when Trump tried to explain his state of mind for calling Carroll a liar.

“Did you ever instruct anyone to hurt Ms. Carroll in your statements,” Trump's lawyer Alina Habba asked.

“No,” Trump replied. “I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.”

The judge told the jury to ignore Trump's comments after the word "no."

Defamation or self-defense?

In their push for a new trial, Trump's lawyers noted that he had compelling reasons to call Carroll a liar other than to harm her.

“Indeed, it is virtually unthinkable that President Trump’s ‘sole’ and ‘one and only’ motive for making the challenged statements was that he simply wanted to harm Plaintiff — as opposed to wanting to defend his reputation, protect his family, and defend his Presidency,” they said.

“This Court’s erroneous decision to dramatically limit the scope of President Trump’s testimony almost certainly influenced the jury’s verdict, and thus a new trial is warranted."

Carroll first accused Trump of rape while promoting her 2019 book, What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal.

Trump has often cited Carroll's outlandish statements to raise doubts about her credibility, including a comment on CNN that rape is "sexy."

Trump is also fighting a staggering civil fraud judgment that costs over $450 million.

A different judge rejected his request to delay the payment, which Trump said could force him to liquidate some of his properties.

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