Trump ordered to pay $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll in defamation suit


A Manhattan jury on Friday ordered former President Donald J. Trump to pay $83.3 million to writer E. Jean Carroll for defaming her in 2019 after she accused him of a decades-old rape, attacks he continued in publications on social media, at press conferences and even in the middle of the trial itself.

Carroll’s lawyers had argued that a large award was necessary to prevent Trump from continuing to attack her. After less than three hours of deliberation, the jury responded by awarding Carroll $65 million in punitive damages, finding that Trump had acted with malice. One recent day, she made more than 40 mocking posts about Ms. Carroll on her Truth Social website.

On Friday, Trump had already left the courtroom for the day when Judge Lewis A. Kaplan summoned the nine-member jury shortly after 4:30 p.m. and warned the lawyers: “We will have no outbursts.” The verdict was pronounced nine minutes later amid complete silence in the courtroom.

In addition to the $65 million, jurors awarded Ms. Carroll $18.3 million in compensatory damages for her suffering. Trump’s lawyers slumped in their seats as the dollar figures were read aloud. The jury was dismissed and Carroll, 80, hugged her attorneys. Minutes later, she left the courthouse arm in arm with her legal team, smiling for the cameras.

“This is a huge victory for every woman who stands up when she’s been knocked down and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down,” Carroll said in a statement, profusely thanking her attorneys.

Trump, who had left the courtroom earlier during Carroll’s attorney’s closing argument, said in a Truth Social post that the verdict was “absolutely ridiculous.”

“Our legal system is out of control and is being used as a political weapon,” he said, vowing to appeal. “They have taken away all of his First Amendment rights.”

In particular, he did not attack Mrs. Carroll.

Outside the courthouse, Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, combined complaints about how Judge Kaplan had handled the case with chants, echoing Trump’s claims that he was being mistreated by a corrupt system. “We didn’t win today,” she told reporters, “but we will win.”

Trump’s appeal will likely prevent Carroll from receiving the money he is owed any time soon.

Carroll’s lead attorney, Roberta A. Kaplan, said the verdict “demonstrates that the law applies to everyone in our country, even the rich, even the famous, even former presidents.”

The verdict far eclipsed the $5 million an independent jury awarded Carroll last spring after finding that Trump had sexually abused her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the mid-1990s and defamed her in a publication. from Truth Social in October 2022. The verdict came after Trump attended nearly every day of the latest trial and testified briefly this week.

Judge Kaplan, who presided over both trials, had ruled that the jury’s findings last May would carry over to the present, limiting the second jury’s focus solely to damages. Trump, who is running for president again, was not allowed to stray beyond that topic in his testimony. On Thursday, the judge, outside the presence of the jury, asked Ms. Habba for a preview of that testimony. “I want to know everything he is going to say,” the judge said.

In the end, Trump, by his actions and words, was his own worst enemy. During the trial, he attacked Carroll online and insulted her last week at a campaign event in New Hampshire. Inside the courtroom, the judge warned Trump that he could be excluded after Carroll’s lawyers complained that he was muttering “scam” and “witch hunt” loud enough for jurors to hear. They will listen to it.

In their closing arguments Friday, Carroll’s attorneys, Kaplan and Shawn G. Crowley, used Trump’s presence in court as a weapon against him. Crowley said his actions demonstrated his belief that he could get away with anything, including continuing to defame Carroll.

“You saw how he behaved during this trial,” Ms. Crowley said. “You heard it. She watched him get up and leave this room as Mrs. Kaplan spoke. “The rules don’t apply to Donald Trump.”

Trump could suffer further financial damage. He is still awaiting the outcome of a civil fraud trial brought by New York’s attorney general that concluded this month. Attorney General Letitia James has asked a judge to impose a fine of about $370 million on Trump.

The former president also faces four criminal charges, with at least one of them expected to go to trial before the November election. His civil cases will soon be behind him, but the biggest threat (91 felony charges in total) still looms.

Friday’s verdict capped two weeks of political success for Trump. He completed a sweep of Iowa and New Hampshire in the first two states with 2024 presidential nominations and established himself as the likely Republican nominee.

He has used his court appearances as a key element of his campaign, portraying himself as a political martyr attacked on all sides by Democratic law enforcement officials as well as Ms. Carroll. The loss of him will probably hurt for some time.

During the trial, Carroll testified that Trump’s repeated taunts and attacks had mobilized many of his supporters. She said she had faced an avalanche of attacks on social media and in her email inbox that scared her and “destroyed” her reputation as a highly respected advice columnist for Elle magazine.

Carroll told the jury she had been attacked on Twitter and Facebook. “She was living in a new universe,” she said.

The trial lasted about five days over two weeks and was marked by repeated clashes between Trump’s lawyers and Judge Kaplan, known for his command of the courtroom. The former president’s testimony had been highly anticipated for days, but on Thursday he was on the stand for less than five minutes and his testimony stood out for how little he ended up saying.

On Friday, Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, asked the jury in a crisp and methodical summary to award Carroll enough money to help her repair her reputation and compensate her for the emotional damage Trump’s attacks had inflicted on her. .

Kaplan also emphasized that Trump could afford significant punitive damages, which come into play when a defendant’s conduct is believed to have been particularly malicious. He cited an excerpt from a video deposition played for the jury in which he estimated that his brand alone was worth “maybe $10 billion” and that the value of several of his real estate holdings was $14 billion. of dollars.

“Donald Trump is worth billions of dollars,” Kaplan told the jury.

“The law says that in making that assessment you can consider Donald Trump’s wealth, as well as his continued malicious and spiteful conduct,” Ms. Kaplan said, adding: “Now is the time to make him pay for it, and now It’s the moment”. so that he may pay dearly.”

Trump was not present to hear it. After scoffing, muttering and shaking his head during the first minutes of Kaplan’s closing argument, Mr. Trump rose from the defense table without saying anything, turned around and left the 26th-floor courtroom. Ms. Kaplan continued to address to the jury as if the flagrant violation of decorum had not occurred.

“The record will reflect that Mr. Trump simply got up and left the courtroom,” Judge Kaplan said.

Trump returned about 75 minutes later, as his lawyer, Ms. Habba, began her summary.

Trump’s lawyers portrayed Carroll as a fame-hungry writer who was trying to raise a declining profile when she first made her accusation against Trump in an excerpt from a 2019 book in New York magazine about an encounter that, According to her, it traumatized her. decades.

Habba, in a loud, heavy voice, with a mocking and sarcastic tone, argued that Carroll’s reputation, far from being damaged, had been improved as a result of the president’s statements. And he said Carroll’s lawyers had not shown that the barrage of threats and defamatory statements the writer received were a response to Trump’s statements.

“There is no causality,” Ms. Habba thundered, adding: “President Trump has no more control over the thoughts and feelings of social media users than he does over the weather.”

Crowley, in a spirited and passionate rebuttal to Habba, rejected his claim that Trump’s remarks did not prompt the threats Carroll received. “There couldn’t be clearer evidence of causality,” Crowley said.

Jurors remained attentive during closing arguments. One watched Ms. Kaplan closely throughout much of her summary; others alternated between looking at the lawyers, looking at the evidence on the screens, and taking notes.

During the summaries, Trump’s account on his Truth Social website made about 16 posts in 15 minutes, mostly attacking Judge Kaplan and Ms. Carroll, with their familiar insults, the kind of insults that have now become very expensive.

Kaplan said in his closing argument that the only thing that could make Trump stop his attacks would be to make it too expensive to continue.

The jury, in its verdict, appears to have agreed.

Olivia Bensimon, Anusha Bayya, Maggie Haberman, Shane Goldmacher and miguel gold contributed with reports.

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