Trump on deck to testify as E. Jean Carroll trial resumes

Trump on deck to testify as E. Jean Carroll trial resumes

NEW YORK (Reuters): Donald Trump may go face-to-face with the writer E. Jean Carroll in open court on Thursday, to convince jurors he shouldn’t pay her any damages despite being liable for having defamed and sexually abused her.

Testimony resumed in federal court in Manhattan after a week off, with lawyers for Carroll, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, expected to wrap up their case.

Trump looked on as former Elle Editor-in-Chief Robbie Myers began testifying on Carroll’s behalf. The former president could testify in his own defense later.

Carroll, 80, is suing over Trump’s June 2019 denials that he raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan. She is seeking at least $10 million.

Trump, 77, has consistently denied wrongdoing, claiming he had not known Carroll despite photos showing them together, and accusing her of making up the rape to boost sales of her memoir.

He filed dozens of posts related to the case overnight to his Truth Social platform, maintaining that he had never heard of or touched Carroll and that her case was “Another HOAX.”

The trial has become an element of Trump’s third White House run, with the Republican frontrunner shuttling between the courtroom and campaign stops, while criticizing Carroll, the judge and the judicial process online and at press conferences.

Last May, another jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million after he denied her rape claim in October 2022.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has presided at both trials, has ruled that the first trial established that Trump defamed and sexually abused Carroll.

The only issues for the nine jurors in the current trial is how much money Trump should pay Carroll, if any, for damaging her reputation – and how much, if any, he should pay as punishment and to dissuade him from defaming her again.

A damages expert testified on Carroll’s behalf that the damage to her reputation could be as high as $12.1 million.

Trump’s legal team has said damages should be nominal or zero, and that Carroll has gained more than whatever she might have lost by pursuing and gaining her newfound game.

Kaplan last week warned Trump not to use the courtroom to air political grievances, after one of Carroll’s lawyers complained that jurors might have overheard Trump calling the case a “witch hunt” and “con job.”

The judge has spent 29 years on the federal bench. He is known for his no-nonsense approach, and for expressing impatience with lawyers and witnesses who don’t follow his instructions.

Kaplan could interrupt or shut down Trump’s testimony, or throw him out of the courtroom, if Trump persisted in speaking out of turn, or digressed from the issues the jury will consider.

On Jan. 11, when another judge asked Trump if he could stick to the facts if allowed to give a closing statement in the New York attorney general’s civil fraud case against him, Trump responded by attacking the judge and proclaiming the case a politically inspired sham.

Carroll’s lawyers have warned that Trump might try to “sow chaos” if he testified, because his defiance might aid him politically.