Trump vows to appeal jury’s $83.3 million verdict for E. Jean Carroll

A jury has awarded a whopping $83.3 million in additional damages to columnist E. Jean Carroll, who says former President Donald Trump damaged her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of violence sexual.

The verdict was delivered Friday by a jury of seven men and two women in a trial regularly attended by Trump, who suddenly left the courtroom during closing arguments by Carroll’s lawyer, only to return later.

Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. By then, Trump had left the building with his motorcade.

“Absolutely ridiculous!” he said in a statement shortly after the verdict was announced. He promised an appeal. “Our legal system is out of control and is being used as a political weapon.”

It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, casual encounter with Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently. She said Trump slammed her against the locker room wall, pulled down her pantyhose and forced himself on her.

In May, a different jury awarded Carroll $5 million. It found Trump not responsible for rape, but responsible for sexually abusing Carroll and then defaming her by claiming she made it up. He is appealing that award.

Trump skipped the first trial. He later expressed regret for not being present and insisted on testifying in the second trial, even though the judge limited what he could say, ruling that he had missed the opportunity to maintain his innocence. He spent only a few minutes on the witness stand Thursday, during which he denied attacking Carroll, then left the court muttering “this is not America.”

This new jury was asked only how much Trump, 77, should pay Carroll, 80, for two statements he made as president when he answered questions from reporters after excerpts of Carroll’s memoirs were published in a magazine – damages which could not be decided earlier due to legal challenges. Jurors were not asked to decide again whether the sexual assault actually occurred.

Carroll’s lawyers had requested $24 million in compensatory damages and “an unusually high punitive award.”

His lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, urged jurors in her closing argument Friday to punish Trump enough to stop a steady stream of public statements smearing Carroll as a liar and a “bullshit job.”

Trump shook his head vigorously as Kaplan spoke, then suddenly stood up and left, taking the Secret Service agents with him. Her exit came just minutes after the judge, without a jury present, threatened to send Trump lawyer Alina Habba to prison for continuing to talk about her when he told her she was done.

“You’re about to spend some time in prison. Now sit down,” the judge told Habba, who immediately complied.

The trial has reached its conclusion as Trump heads toward the Republican presidential nomination for the third consecutive time. He has sought to turn his various trials and legal vulnerabilities into an advantage, portraying them as evidence of an armed political system.

While there is no evidence that President Joe Biden or anyone in the White House influenced any of the legal cases against him, Trump’s line of argument has resonated with his staunchest supporters who view the proceedings with skepticism.

Carroll testified early in the trial that Trump’s public statements had led to death threats.

“It destroyed my reputation,” he said. “I’m here to get my reputation back and to stop him from telling lies about me.”

He said he had an electronic fence installed around the cabin in upstate New York where he lives, warned neighbors about the threats and bought bullets for a gun he keeps by his bed.

“Previously, I was known simply as a reporter and had a column, and now I’m known as the liar, the crook and the madman,” Carroll testified.

Trump’s lawyer, Habba, told jurors that Carroll had enriched herself from her accusations against Trump and had achieved the fame she desired. She said no damage was guaranteed.

To support Carroll’s request for millions in damages, Northwestern University sociologist Ashlee Humphreys told the jury that Trump’s 2019 statements had caused between $7.2 million and $12.1 million in damage to Carroll’s reputation.

When Trump finally testified, Kaplan gave him little wiggle room, because Trump could not be allowed to try to rehash the issues resolved in the first trial.

“This is a very well-established legal principle in this country that prevents do-overs by disappointed litigants,” Kaplan said.

“He’s lost it and he’s tied up. And the jury will be told that regardless of what he says here in court today, as far as they are concerned, he did. That’s the law,” Kaplan said shortly before Trump testified.

After vowing to tell the truth, Trump was asked if he had taken a deposition in which he called Carroll a “liar” and a “crazy man.” He replied: “100 percent. YES.”

Asked whether he denied the allegation because Carroll had made an accusation, he replied: “That’s exactly true. You said something, I consider it a false accusation”. Asked if she had ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll, she responded: “No. I just wanted to defend myself, my family and, frankly, the presidency.”

The judge ordered the jury to ignore the “false accusation” comment and everything Trump said after “No” to the last question.

As the trial began, Trump tested the judge’s tolerance. When he complained to his lawyers about a “witch hunt” and “scam” within earshot of the jurors, Kaplan threatened to eject him from the courtroom if it happened again. “I would love to,” Trump said. Later that day, Trump said in a press conference that Kaplan was a “bad judge.”

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