A Manhattan jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a civil suit brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll.
A Manhattan jury found former President Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation in a civil suit brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll, while clearing Trump of her claim of rape. Trump has been ordered to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.
- The jury returned the verdict after just three hours of deliberations. Per AP, Carroll nodded as the verdict was announced and could be heard laughing and crying after the hearing was over. Trump did not attend the trial and was not present when the verdict was read.
- As a civil case, Carroll had to meet the “preponderance of evidence” standard where she just had to prove it was more likely than not that her claims were true. The civil standard is a much lower bar than the criminal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
- “Today, the world finally knows the truth,” said Carroll in a statement. “This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”
- In her suit, Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s. She additionally sued Trump for defamation for calling her claims “a hoax and a lie.” The jury disagreed with her rape claim, but did find Trump liable for sexual abuse, a form of sexual battery.
- A key moment in the trial came when Trump was deposed by Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney. In the video deposition aired for the jury, Trump denied the allegations, claimed he did not know her, and she was “not his type in any way.”
- However, when Kaplan showed Trump a picture of him, Carroll, and this then-wife Ivana Trump, Trump appeared to confuse Carroll for his second wife, Marla Maples. “It’s Marla,” Trump said, seemingly undermining his claims that Carroll was “not his type.” Trump’s own attorney had to correct him and told him the woman in the photo was in fact E. Jean Carroll.
- Even so, Trump continued to claim, “I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS,” in a Tuesday Truth Social post after the verdict was announced. Trump continued with a familiar list of complaints when legal cases don’t go his way: “GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME,” VERY UNFAIR TRIAL,” “A JURY FROM AN ANTI-TRUMP AREA,” etc.
- The former President also falsely claimed before the verdict that he was “not allowed to speak or defend myself.” Trump testified in a taped deposition and could have testified on the stand or appear in court, but he chose not to.
- Trump is scheduled to appear at a live CNN town hall on Wednesday night, “virtually ensuring he will be pressed on [the] issue by a network that has historically had an adversarial relationship with the former president.”
- “They made me a deal I couldn’t refuse!!!” Trump posted on Truth Social. “Could be the beginning of a New & Vibrant CNN, with no more Fake News, or it could turn into a disaster for all, including me. Let’s see what happens? Wednesday Night at 8:00!!!”
- Politico’s Kyle Cheney wrote the verdict begins “the season of former President Donald Trump’s discontent.” Cheney continued, “Legal threats in Washington, Manhattan and Atlanta — both criminal and civil — are crystallizing in ways Trump has skirted for his entire political life. And the story of his bid to regain the presidency is likely to be defined by his attempts to stave off criminal liability for things he did the last time he occupied the White House.”
- As Axios noted, “In any other context, it would be a career-ender: A federal jury ordered the Republican presidential front-runner to pay $5 million after finding him liable for sexually abusing and defaming a famous writer… And yet recent history suggests it will do little — if anything — to dislodge Trump’s iron grip over the Republican Party.”
- The New York Times wrote this verdict and the $5 million in damages would be “hard to spin” for the former President. As Maggie Haberman and Jonathan Swan said flatly, “There is no world in which the result of that civil trial was a positive development for the project he is most focused on: the presidential campaign for which he remains the Republican front-runner.”
- The editors of National Review observed there was “murkiness” in the “head-spinningly quick verdict” in the Trump-Carroll civil trial. “Rape was the main allegation in the case. The fact that it wasn’t established to the jury’s satisfaction is naturally being emphasized by Trump apologists as a death blow to Carroll’s credibility and, they suggest, his ticket to having the case thrown out on appeal. The truth is more complicated.”
- Fox News rounded up the statements from his 2024 primary opponents in the wake of the verdict. Vivek Ramaswamy defended his rival and cast doubt on the merits of the case. Former Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson condemned Trump, saying, “The jury verdict should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump.” The other likely or confirmed 2024 candidates like Ron DeSantis, Nikki Haley and Tim Scott have stayed silent so far.
- The verdict “casts another legal cloud” over Trump’s 2024 bid, wrote the Wall Street Journal. Some Senate Republicans and his 2024 rivals tried to avoid the subject, while others said the news reinforces their desire for a fresh face for 2024. As Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana put it, “Of course it creates concern. How could it not create concern?””
© Dominic Moore, 2023