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Donald Trump heads to trial, again, against E. Jean Carroll

In World
January 16, 2024

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump could be ordered to pay millions of dollars more to E. Jean Carroll at a second civil trial after the writer accused the former U.S. president of raping her decades ago.

Jury selection for the second trial is scheduled to begin on Tuesday in Manhattan federal court. Trump has said he wants to attend and testify at the trial, unlike at Carroll’s first trial.

Another jury last May ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million for having sexually abused her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan and defaming her by denying it in 2022.

In the second trial, the jury must determine how much more Trump owes the former Elle magazine columnist for similarly defaming her in 2019, when he was president.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has overseen both cases, has barred Trump from arguing that he did not defame or sexually assault Carroll or that she made up her account. In both cases, Trump, 77, claimed that he did not know Carroll and that she invented their encounter to sell her memoir.

Carroll, 80, is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages plus punitive damages.

He is appealing the $5 million award, and could appeal any award at the second trial. Appeals could take years.

NEW ATTACKS

In recent weeks, Trump has escalated his attacks on Carroll, including a false accusation this weekend on his Truth Social website that she did not know the decade of their encounter.

He also branded Kaplan, an appointee of former Democratic President Bill Clinton who has spent 29 years on the bench, a “terrible, biased, irrationally angry Clinton-appointed judge.”

Trump has separately pleaded not guilty to 91 felony counts in four separate indictments, including two for trying to overturn his 2020 election loss to Joe Biden.

He is also a defendant in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization. The judge in that case, which had no jury and saw closing arguments last week, could rule as early as this month.

Trump’s legal woes have become part of his campaign for the Republican nomination to challenge Biden in November’s election.

Trump in court appearances last week in Washington and New York attacked the judicial system and said cases against him are meant to undermine his quest for a second White House term. None of the cases has so far dented Trump’s lead for the Republican nomination.

Kaplan on Friday denied Trump’s request to delay Carroll’s trial by one week for the funeral of his mother-in-law.

LIMITS ON TRUMP’S DEFENSE

Trump may face an uphill fight to escape significant additional damages because of Kaplan’s pre-trial rulings.

These include banning Trump from suggesting he did not rape Carroll, as New York’s penal law defines the term, because the first jury did not find that Trump committed rape.

Kaplan has ruled that because Trump used his fingers in the assault, Carroll’s rape claim was “substantially true.”

Trump also cannot discuss DNA evidence or Carroll’s sexual activities, or suggest that Democrats are bankrolling her case. Carroll is a Democrat.

And as at the first trial, jurors will be able to see the 2005 “Access Hollywood” video where Trump graphically described the ability of famous people like himself to have sexual relations with beautiful women.

Trump did not retract his comments when asked about them in a 2022 deposition. Kaplan has said that the video could offer “useful insight into Mr. Trump’s state of mind” toward Carroll.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba on Sunday assured Kaplan that he was “well aware” of the court’s rulings “and the strict confines placed on his testimony.”

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Noeleen Walder and Mark Porter)

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