With Trump looking on, writer E Jean Carroll brands him a liar

The writer claims the former US president destroyed her reputation and should pay damages for denying in 2019 that he had raped her

Jonathan StempelLuc Cohen,Reuters
Published : 17 Jan 2024, 06:16 PM
Updated : 17 Jan 2024, 06:16 PM

With Donald Trump looking on, the writer E Jean Carroll told jurors on Wednesday that the former US president destroyed her reputation and should pay damages for denying in 2019 that he had raped her decades ago.

"I am here because Donald Trump assaulted me, and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened," Carroll said in federal court in Manhattan in her second civil lawsuit against Trump. "He lied, and it shattered my reputation."

Last May, a different jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million, finding he had sexually abused the former Elle magazine advice columnist in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room, and defamed her in 2022 by denying that anything happened.

In Wednesday's trial, Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in additional compensatory damages, plus punitive damages.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the case, has already ruled that Trump defamed Carroll in 2019 and that Trump sexually abused her in the dressing room by forcing his fingers into her vagina.

'WHACK JOB'

Wednesday's trial concerns Trump's statements in June 2019, when he was in the White House, that he didn't know Carroll and that she branded him a rapist to boost sales of her then-new memoir.

The trial has become a focal point of Trump's 2024 White House run, with Trump using his Truth Social platform to unleash criticism of Carroll even after the trial had begun.

Trump, 77, has often used his legal woes to rally supporters and raise funds as he seeks the Republican presidential nomination, calling the cases part of a political plot.

Under questioning from her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, Carroll said Trump's comments took away her reputation for telling the truth when she wrote and instantaneously exposed her to online attacks.

"I was attacked on Twitter, I was attacked on Facebook, I was attacked on news blogs, I was brutally attacked in messages," Carroll said. "It was a new world."

Carroll said she once got 200 letters a month from readers seeking advice, and now gets eight.

She also said the attacks haven't let up.

"Yesterday I opened up Twitter, and it said 'hey lady, you're a fraud,'" Carroll said. "Now I'm known as a liar, a fraud and a whack job."

Twitter is now known as X. Trump has also called Carroll a whack job.

NO ADJOURNMENT FOR FUNERAL

Trump's legal team has argued that Carroll invited criticism by accusing Trump of sexual misconduct, and suffered harm only from "mean things" that people posted on social media.

They also said Carroll has basked in adulation from supporters, and attention from media outlets.

"Regardless of a few mean tweets, Ms Carroll is now more famous than she has ever been in her life, and loved and respected by many, which was her goal," Trump's lawyer Alina Habba said in her opening statement.

The trial is expected to last three to five days.

Trump had not attended Carroll's first trial, but has said he now wants to testify.

Before Carroll's testimony, Habba had a testy exchange with Judge Kaplan, who rejected her renewed request to adjourn the trial on Thursday so Trump could attend his mother-in-law's funeral in Florida.

"I will hear no further argument on it," the judge told Habba. "None. Do you understand that word? Please sit down."

Trump has separately pleaded not guilty in four criminal cases, including two claiming he tried to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.