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E. Jean Carroll to Rachel Maddow: ‘We were so proud to be in America’

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May 20, 2023
E. Jean Carroll to Rachel Maddow: 'We were so proud to be in America'

E. Jean Carroll to Rachel Maddow: ‘We were so proud to be in America and see democracy actually work. Tonight on The Rachel Maddow Show, host Rachel Maddow was joined by E. Jean Carroll and attorney Robbie Kaplan in the studio to discuss last week’s verdict in the sexual abuse case against former President Donald Trump.

Carroll on being recognized as the first to hold the former president accountable by the judicial system: 

E. Jean Carroll to Rachel Maddow: 'We were so proud to be in America'

“I hadn’t realized that nobody had done this, that we’re the first… We were so proud to be in America and see democracy actually work,” she added “I really wasn’t doing it for myself, I was doing it for the women of my country.”


Kaplan on her expectations of the pending 2019 defamation case against Trump:


“You’re going to see news from us on that case very, very soon… two to three days max.”


Kaplan on the potential for this case to impact other civil cases against Trump: 

“I think it does because he’s actually a very good defamation defendant if you’re planning to sue for defamation because he lies all the time. in this case, we were able to show those lies not only about it being fake news and a hoax and a made-up story, but, even when I showed him that famous photo where he mistook E. Jean for Marla Maples when he realized he’d made the mistake, he then said, the photo is blurry… The photo was not blurry, but it was classic Donald Trump.”





RACHEL MADDOW, MSNBC HOST:  But here — here is where we really want to begin tonight.

As you know, last week, a jury in New York found former President Donald Trump liable for both battery, sexual abuse of E. Jean Carroll, as well as defamation. Now, in doing so, this jury agreed with Ms. Carroll and her allegation that Donald Trump did sexually assault her. And then they agreed that he defamed her when he denied her telling about that allegation when he called her a liar. The jury said, in effect, E. Jean Carroll is not a liar, and Trump must pay her for falsely saying that she was. The jury ruled that Trump must, in fact, pay $5 million in damages, $2 million for the battery charge, for the assault, and then an additional $3 million for the defamation, for lying about her.

And all of that is a clear through line, right? You do a bad thing, you get sued for doing the bad thing. You get found liable for doing the bad thing. You pay a fine for having done the bad thing, in effect. But are those damages, those millions of dollars Donald Trump has to pay now, is that just supposed to be punishment for what the jury says he did, or is it also supposed to be deterrence? Is it also supposed to dissuade him from ever doing those things again?

I ask for a friend. I ask because that is now a very live question, because, if the multimillion-dollar damages payment that he has just been ordered to pay to E. Jean Carroll was supposed to dissuade him from ever lying again about E. Jean Carroll, it doesn’t seem to be working. The verdict in the E. Jean Carroll case came down Tuesday afternoon. Barely 24 hours later, literally, the very next calendar day, Donald Trump went on the CNN news network and he repeated the exact same lies about Ms. Carroll, the same lies for which he had just been held liable by a jury the day before.

And I’m not, like, rounding up to the nearest integer here. I’m not being flippant. I’m not exaggerating. He repeated the exact same things almost verbatim. Look at this. On the left side of your screen here, that’s exactly what Donald Trump said — said last year — quote — “I don’t know this woman. I have no idea who she is.” This is part of the statement Trump made about Ms. Carroll that a jury said was defamation. That statement is part of the reason Trump was ordered to pay E. Jean Carroll millions of dollars on Tuesday.

The day after the jury’s verdict, look at what he said on TV — quote — “This woman, I don’t know her. I never met her. I have no idea who she is.” And that wasn’t the only incident. Look at this one. In 2022, Trump says about E. Jean Carroll’s allegations — quote — “It is a hoax and a lie.” He says: “E. Jean Carroll is not telling the truth.”

Again, it was that statement, saying Ms. Carroll made up her story, her story is fake, that’s what was deemed by a jury to be defamation on Tuesday. That’s what cost Trump millions of dollars on Tuesday. And yet here he is the day after that verdict — quote — “This is a fake story, a made-up story.” In other words, this is a hoax. A jury deemed those statements on the left side of your screen to be actionable defamation. They ruled that Trump would be required to pay millions of dollars for making those statements. And then he turned around and repeated those very same statements in public on national television the day after the jury’s verdict.

Now, Ms. Carroll has responded to those new statements from her about Trump. She called them stupid, disgusting, vile, foul. She says that kind of language from him — quote — “wounds people.” But could it also be actionable defamation? A jury has already ruled that those kinds of lies about E. Jean Carroll were lies, for which he must pay millions of dollars. Would a jury say the same thing about the latest round of him saying those same things again?

Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, says she and her client are currently weighing whether or not to bring yet another defamation suit against Donald Trump, this time for the new iterations he made of these lies on television in the immediate wake of the verdict.

For the first time since he was elected president, E. Jean Carroll and her lawyer, Robbie Kaplan, have proven in a court of law that Trump cannot tell lies with impunity. They have done that for the country. They were not the first to try, but they were the first to succeed, to hold Trump accountable by the American judicial system, the first time anybody has been able to do that since he was elected president.

They have already done that. Now they have to decide what to do next.

Joining us now for “The Interview” is E. Jean Carroll and her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan.

It is very nice to have you both here. Thank you.



MADDOW:  I’m sorry I made you sit through that whole thing about the attack in Virginia and the Durham report.

Forgive me.

CARROLL:  I just want to stand up and give you a standing ovation.


CARROLL:  I hadn’t realized that nobody had done this, that we’re the first?


CARROLL:  I just now realized it when you said it.

MADDOW:  Yes, you.

CARROLL:  Robbie…



MADDOW:  You did it.


MADDOW:  And we, as a country, are inured to the idea not just that politicians tell lies, right? We’re inured to this specific thing with Mr. Trump in which he lies about even checkable things, and he lies in ways that are very hurtful, that are designed to ruin people’s lives, and there’s no consequences for it. All he does is benefit.

Cruelty makes him seem stronger. Cruelty makes him seem more macho. Cruelty makes his view — his adoring public adore him all the more.

You are the first people to have punctured that by using the legal system to say, you have to be held accountable for what you say.


MADDOW:  I was going to ask you how that felt, but you’re only realizing it for the first time now.

CARROLL:  Well, when the verdict came…


CARROLL:  … when the verdict came, I think we ascended to the ceiling.

KAPLAN:  We did.

CARROLL:  And it was the happiest day of my life.

And on top of having the happiest day of our lives was added, we were so proud to be in America and see democracy actually work. So, to put that on top of our happiness, and Robbie was squeezing — you see this hand? It’s three times smaller than it usually is.


CARROLL:  Squeezed it. Just squeezed it so hard.

It was thrilling. And I could feel it in my very bones, right down to my corpuscles. And it was — and I still have that feeling. When you went through it again, I was again thrilled.

MADDOW:  Let me ask about that question that I posited there about — I mean, it’s — you did force accountability, and then he did it again, the defamation, the calling you a liar.

The exact same things the jury held him liable for the day before, he did again the next day on national television. Is that just the way it has to be? Do you think that potentially could be actionable? If you were to file another suit, would it work the same way?

KAPLAN:  So, it’s definitely actionable. And, here, the cruelty will make him less wealthy. He’s not going to get away with it another time.

They’re — it’s unprecedented for a person to have been held liable in defamation to keep doing the defamation. So there are not a lot of cases that we can look to for a playbook about how to do it. But, suffice to say, I have a lot of lawyers who are very busy looking into this, and we are weighing all of our options.

MADDOW:  You also have another live case from the time when he was president and he was stating these same untrue things about you, defaming you in the same way.

That case is still working its way through the courts. What is your expectation in terms of what’s going to happen there?

KAPLAN:  You’re going to see news from us on that case very, very soon, Rachel.

MADDOW:  What counts us very soon?

KAPLAN:  I don’t know how late the people work tonight. Two to three days max.


KAPLAN:  But we’re going to — we’re fully pursuing that case. We got a nice — a very good decision from the D.C. Court of Appeals essentially affirming Judge Kaplan, that when Kap — when Trump said what he said about E. Jean in 2019, he was not acting as president.

We’re quite confident that that will be affirmed, and then we will be able to move forward with damages in that case. We don’t even need a finding of liability, because we already have it. And we will be able to find damages. And, there, the defamation damages are much higher, because that was the first statement he made.

And that’s what really destroyed her reputation as an advice columnist at “Elle” and to all her readers and people who trusted her and who looked up to her.

MADDOW:  In terms of the timing here, after those statements that are still at issue in this live case, as you mentioned, you were let go from “Elle,” in terms of your job.

CARROLL:  Yes. That’s right.

MADDOW:  And you think that was related to his defamation?

CARROLL:  Oh, I know it was related.

MADDOW:  Let me ask you, E. Jean, in terms of what you went through.

There weren’t cameras in the courtroom, but the whole country was following this word by word. And we have the transcript, and we know how your cross-examination in particular went. And I think anybody with a drop of empathy knows that must have been very painful.

But you must have known it was going to be painful in the first instance when you set out to try to get your day in court here. Did things go the way that you thought they would? Were they harder than you thought they would be? Or were you more prepared for how they were going to go than you expected?

How did it match up with your expectations and how you had prepared?

CARROLL:  I was ignorant. I had never sued anybody. I’d never even been in a courtroom.

It was total — but Robbie Kaplan, who I heard someone you might know say, when the history of this era is written, there will be multiple chapters about Robbie Kaplan.

She and this brilliant team of lawyers had me so prepared, had me unbelievably prepared. I went in, because I was so ignorant, confident. I was — it was like getting hit by a board when Mr. Tacopina did my cross-examine — examination.

But I really wasn’t doing for myself. I was doing it for the women in the country. And I got very little sleep.

MADDOW:  Mm-hmm.

KAPLAN:  You slayed it, though, E. Jean.

CARROLL:  Got — it was — every day was exciting.

It’s an incredible feeling to feel the waves across the country behind us. And, at the end, when I told what happened, I was heard. I was heard in federal court. I was heard in federal court in front of a jury of my peers. They weighed the evidence, and the truth was established, and the system works.

It’s amazing how this process worked after two weeks. I was astounded that it actually worked. And the reason it worked is Robbie Kaplan.

MADDOW:  It helps to have — it helps to have a good lawyer to make the system work for you.

CARROLL:  Right.

MADDOW:  But, I mean, you had a jury of nine, six men and three women on the jury.

KAPLAN:  Correct.

MADDOW:  There’s no — once things are in the hands of the jury, you never know what each individual juror is bringing to those deliberations, what their hangups or own experiences or prejudices might be, despite the fact that the process is designed to make sure you have a fair jury.

Clearly, this is a ruling that shook the former president. The prospect of more accountability to come appears to be very unsettling to him. I think it is creating a sort of wave across the country of people feeling like you are speaking for a lot of people, and not just yourself.

But, Robbie, you have sued this former president a lot, and you have been the point of the spear for some of the legal accountability that he seems least able to handle. And I wonder how that’s changed your life.

KAPLAN:  Well, he doesn’t like me very much. That’s for sure. And he’s kind of obsessed with the fact that my firm and some of the lawyers I work with have other cases against him.

But I think, in terms of my life, it’s the same job whether I’m suing Trump on behalf of E. Jean, or we’re suing the Charlottesville Nazis, or we’re suing someone else. The job is the same. It’s to litigate the facts, to marshal the evidence, to convince a jury, as we did in both cases. And, here, we had the best possible plaintiff and possible client to tell her story, to speak her truth.

And as we said in the — as we said on our team, just let E. Jean be E. Jean. And she was. And the jury loved her, as they should have.

MADDOW:  Let me ask you, as a matter of law and advocacy here, this case has got me thinking about other people who have or may have defamation claims against the same former president, people like the Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss.

They have sued a few conservative media outlets and Rudy Giuliani for defamation. They haven’t sued the president himself, but, arguably, they have got the same kind of case to be able to make against him.

Do you think the success of this case doesn’t just buoy people who feel like, finally, accountability, finally truth being nailed to the wall and not led to slide down, but does it have the potential to change the legal landscape for other civil cases against Trump?

KAPLAN:  I think it does, because he’s actually a very good defamation defendant if you’re planning to sue for defamation, because he lies all the time. He lies as a matter of habit. He lies about big things. He lies about small things.

And, in this case, we were able to show those lies not only about it being fake news and a hoax and a made-up story, but, even when I showed him that famous photo where he mistook E. Jean for Marla Maples when he realized he’d made the mistake, he then said, the photo is blurry.

The photo was not blurry.

MADDOW:  Right.

KAPLAN:  But it was classic Donald Trump.

And I think the jury really heard that. They really absorbed it, and that’s why we got a verdict in two-and-a-half hours.

MADDOW:  See, this is the reason that this is bigger — I’m sorry to put it in these terms because I feel like I’m a little like casting a movie about it or something.

But you saying that it’s a disadvantage that he lies so much, I feel like it’s the first time I have heard that in seven years. The ability to lie without shame and without any sort of tell, without any sort of remorse about it whatsoever, and about even the most important things, has always political superpower to him.

You have turned it into the opposite, by virtue of the court system.

KAPLAN:  He’s revived defamation law.


CARROLL:  Donald Trump single-handedly.

MADDOW:  E. Jean, let me just ask you one last — one last question here.

I was — I was struck by what you said about Trump’s latest comments on CNN. And I know you didn’t watch them live, which somehow gives me great comfort, but you said his words wound people.

You used the plural there, not that they wound me, or this is a way to wound women. You’re talking about the — I’m just struck by your use of the word people there, plural. What did you mean by that?

CARROLL:  Remember when he came — I have seen now clips of the CNN town hall, when he came on stage right after our enormous victory, and he made jokes about sexual assault.

MADDOW:  Mm-hmm.

CARROLL:  I couldn’t believe the pain he was causing thousands of people by joking about sexual assault.

And that’s how he hurts people. That’s how he hurts people. And I’d love to have Robbie Kaplan just shut him up.

MADDOW:  E. Jean Carroll, Robbie Kaplan, thank you.

CARROLL:  Thank you, Rachel.

KAPLAN:  Thank you.

MADDOW:  Thank you. It’s good to see you both.

KAPLAN:  Nice to see you.

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DJ Kamal Mustafa
/ Published posts: 1061

DJ Kamal Mustafa is a Music Producer, DJ, Pakistani Filmmaker, News Editor of EMEA Trribune and Journalist.