E Jean Carroll trial: Judge threatens to remove Trump from court

Donald Trump’s lawyers accused E Jean Carroll of courting publicity on Wednesday, as she said her reputation was left “shattered” after accusing him of sexual assault in the 1990s.

The second day of the civil defamation trial featured several fiery exchanges.

At one point, the judge threatened to kick Mr Trump out of court after he was overheard criticising her testimony.

A jury found Mr Trump liable for sexually abusing Ms Carroll last year, but he continues to deny the claim.

He was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation, though not for rape, and Ms Carroll was awarded $5m. That trial was based on his 2022 remarks that her story was a “con job” and a “hoax”.

The current case focuses on different remarks – which the judge has already ruled were defamatory – that Mr Trump made while he was president in 2019, when he called her allegation “totally false”.

This second trial will determine additional damages.

But much of Wednesday’s proceedings were marked by angry exchanges between Mr Trump and the judge, who threatened to revoke the former president’s right to attend trial after a lawyer for Ms Carroll heard him call the case a “witch hunt” and criticise his accuser’s memory within earshot of the jury.

“Mr Trump has a right to be present here,” Judge Kaplan said, frustration evident in his voice. “That right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which is what has been reported to me, and if he disregards court orders.”

“Mr Trump,” he continued. “I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial. I understand you’re probably eager for me to do that.”

“I would love it,” the former president replied. “I understand you’re probably very eager for me to do that because you just can’t control yourself in these circumstances,” Judge Kaplan barked back.

In all his years of bomb-throwing and political attacks, Mr Trump has rarely had to face the subjects of his ire. But on Wednesday, aside from those comments, he was forced to remain silent as Ms Carroll told a jury how he had damaged her reputation.

In 2019, she alleged Mr Trump forced himself on her after a chance encounter decades earlier inside the luxury Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan.

“I am here because Donald Trump assaulted me, and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened,” Ms Carroll, 80, said. “He lied, and it shattered my reputation.”

After building a 50-year career as a journalist, she told the court: “now I’m known as a liar, a fraud and a whack job”.

“I am here to get my reputation back and to stop him from telling lies about me.”

Lawyers for Ms Carroll displayed a series of death threats, rape threats and insults she says she has received since coming forward.

One message told her to “stick a gun in your mouth and pull the trigger”, while another called her a “Satan worshipping Nazi” – abuse, she said, that left her fearful.

In the light of these safety concerns, Ms Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, asked her client about a photo showing her smiling next to a man in a rubber Trump mask as she walked past Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Ms Carroll said she felt safe there because of the large police presence.

Sitting two rows back with his legal team, Mr Trump listened intently, staring at Ms Carroll and shaking his head at one point.

During cross-examination, his lawyers went on the attack. Alina Habba – Mr Trump’s attorney – tried to make the case that Ms Carroll wanted fame, citing her multiple television and podcast appearances to talk about her book and the allegations.

She said Ms Carroll continues to give interviews about the case she won last year. “After all those appearances, you want to gain more publicity don’t you?” Ms Habba asked.

Ms Carroll responded that she had her fill of that, adding that she did not like saying Mr Trump’s name but interviewers always wanted to ask about him.

As the court returned for its afternoon session, the tension between Mr Trump, his legal team, and the judge resumed after they asked Mr Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, to recuse himself for “general hostility toward the defence”. The motion was denied.

Ms Habba repeatedly clashed with the judge as the day wore on. She asked for the trial to be delayed so Mr Trump could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral on Thursday, saying it would be “insanely prejudicial” to have him sit in court.

“The application is denied. I will hear no further argument on it,” Judge Kaplan said. “None. Do you understand that word? None.”

Though the former president was deposed in the earlier trial, he did not attend in person or testify, both of which he is doing voluntarily in these proceedings. He is expected to take the stand on Monday.

Speaking after court on Wednesday, he fumed at the refusal, calling Judge Kaplan “a nasty man” and a “Trump hating guy”.

“It’s a disgrace frankly, what’s happening. It’s a disgrace, [he] happens to be a [President] Clinton appointment, but I’m sure that has nothing to do with it.”

Mr Trump, who also faces 91 felony charges across four criminal cases this year and is awaiting judgement in a New York civil fraud trial, is currently the Republican frontrunner for president.

On Monday, he scored a landslide victory in the Iowa caucuses, the first of the state-by-state votes in the race to become the Republican party’s White House candidate.

Source: BBC

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