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Saturday, January 27th, 2024

Writer E. Jean Carroll wins a huge judgment against Donald Trump for defamation

Joe Biden’s pre­de­ces­sor and 2024 rival Don­ald Trump was con­front­ed yes­ter­day with a big bill for being a bul­ly — $83.3 million.

A nine-mem­ber Man­hat­tan jury delib­er­at­ed just three hours before attach­ing a price tag to defam­a­to­ry remarks Trump made about a woman who accused him of sex­u­al assault in the dress­ing room of a pricey New York depart­ment store.

Trump took to social media, label­ing his accuser a “whack job” and denied ever meet­ing E. Jean Car­roll, although the two were once pho­tographed togeth­er. He even com­pared Carroll’s appear­ance to that of Mar­la Maples, his sec­ond wife.

Car­roll was an advice colum­nist with Elle mag­a­zine before she came under attack from Trump. The attacks con­tin­ued on Trump’s social net­work­ing plat­form„ even as Carroll’s lawyers were deliv­er­ing sum­ma­tion remarks in court.

Car­roll had tes­ti­fied to the attacks against her, telling the jury: “Well, to have the Pres­i­dent of the Unit­ed States, one of the most pow­er­ful per­sons on earth, call­ing me a liar for three days — and say­ing I’m a liar twen­ty-six times, I count­ed them, it end­ed the world I’d been liv­ing in.”

She now lives in Ver­mont. The award dwarfs a $5 mil­lion judg­ment deliv­ered by a jury last year when it deter­mined that Trump had assault­ed Carroll.

The lat­est tri­al con­cerned exclu­sive­ly Carroll’s claim she was defamed. U.S. Dis­trict Judge Lewis Kaplan vig­or­ous­ly lim­it­ed tes­ti­mo­ny and lim­it­ed Trump’s histrionics.

At one point, the judge threat­ened to exclude Trump from his courtroom.

“You just can’t con­trol your­self in these cir­cum­stances, appar­ent­ly,” he told the for­mer occu­pant of the Oval Office. “You can’t either,” Trump shot back.

Trump sat mut­ter­ing at the defense table dur­ing sum­ma­tions, but walked out dur­ing a sum­ma­tion by Car­roll lawyer Rober­ta Kaplan (no rela­tion to the judge). “The record will reflect that Mr. Trump walked out of the court­room,” said Judge Kaplan. Trump reap­peared, but left before the jury returned its verdict.

He would call the award “absolute­ly ridicu­lous” and vowed to appeal.

He will have to put up mon­ey, which will be held by the court dur­ing appeal.

He is one celebri­ty defen­dant who can afford to pay, although New York Attor­ney Gen­er­al Leti­tia James is seek­ing a civ­il penal­ty of $320 mil­lion in a suit against the Trump Organization.

The vast major­i­ty of the judg­ment — $56 mil­lion — con­sists of puni­tive dam­ages, designed to get Trump to shut up and stop defam­ing Carroll.

Car­rol­l’s attor­ney Kaplan brought up Trump’s claims of bil­lion-dol­lar wealth in her sum­ma­tion. “Don­ald Trump is worth bil­lions of dol­lars,” she argued. “The law says you can con­sid­er Don­ald Trump’s wealth as well as his mali­cious and con­tin­u­ing con­duct in mak­ing that assess­ment. Now is the time to make him pay for it , and now is the time to make him pay dearly.”

Trump has used civ­il entan­gle­ments, and the nine­ty-one crim­i­nal charges he faces, to mobi­lize sup­port­ers in his bid to reclaim the pres­i­den­cy. They are foot­ing his legal bills. If Trump is forced to draw on his own wealth, that could be a prob­lem, and could neces­si­tate the divest­ment of assets from his real estate port­fo­lio. He recent­ly sold his Wash­ing­ton, D.C. hotel — a major hang­out for lob­by­ists and for­eign inter­ests dur­ing the Trump regime — for $375 million.

Crit­ics of Trump have found them­selves show­ered with threats and abuse on social media. The for­mer pres­i­dent is him­self a mas­ter user of threats. Wit­ness his promis­es this week to black­ball con­trib­u­tors to Nik­ki Haley’s campaign.

Trump attor­ney Ali­na Han­na tried to gloss over the pres­sure on Car­roll, say­ing: “Pres­i­dent Trump has no more con­trol over the rights and feel­ings of social media than he does the weather.”

Judge Kaplan has tak­en a dif­fer­ent view. He has refused to dis­close names of the nine jurors. After the ver­dict was deliv­ered, he told them: “My advice to you is that you nev­er dis­close that you were on this jury.”

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