NEW YORK — Donald Trump taunted the judge at his Manhattan defamation trial Wednesday as he was threatened with expulsion for mouthing off about E. Jean Carroll in front of the jury after being warned to stay quiet.
“Mr. Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited, and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which is what has been reported to me,” Manhattan Federal Court Judge Lewis Kaplan said.
“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial ... I understand you’re probably very eager for me to do that.”
Trump then brazenly replied, “I would love it.”
“I know you would,” the judge said, “because you just can’t control yourself in this circumstance.”
The tense back-and-forth came after Carroll’s lawyer, Shawn Crowley, informed Kaplan outside the jury’s presence that Trump had continued to criticize Carroll while she was on the stand after being admonished by the judge for doing so in the morning.
“It is a witch hunt,” Crowley quoted Trump, saying he was also overheard saying, “It really is a con job,” and, “It’s true,” when Carroll’s lawyers played footage of him deriding Carroll for the jury.
The attorney noted that some jurors were sitting closer to Trump than Carroll’s lawyers when they overheard him. Earlier in the morning, Crowley told Kaplan of other comments Trump made, prompting the judge to lightly admonish Trump, warning he “take special care to keep his voice down when conferring with counsel so that the jury does not overhear it.”
Carroll, 80, took the witness stand on the second day of her defamation trial against Trump, who another jury determined sexually abused and defamed her last May.
The abuse aimed at her after Trump called her a liar continued long after he left the White House and “shattered” her reputation, the advice columnist told a packed courtroom as the former president glared at her from the audience.
“Hey, lady, you’re a fraud,” read one message Carroll received this week, she told the jury.
The jury selected to decide the case on trial will determine how much Trump owes Carroll for defamatory statements he made in June 2019 after she first accused him of assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman changing room in the 1990s — the basis of the first lawsuit she filed against Trump when he was still president. Trump denied assaulting Carroll because he said she wasn’t his “type” and accused her of being a democratic operative who fabricated the incident to sell books.
“I’m here because I was assaulted by Donald Trump, and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened,” Carroll said Wednesday. “He lied, and he shattered my reputation.”
Asked what she thought Trump meant when he said she wasn’t his “type,” Carroll said, “It means I’m too ugly to assault.”
“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 26 times — I counted them — it ended the world that I had been living in, and I entered a new world,” Carroll said.
Known for decades as a respected advice columnist for Elle, Carroll told the jury, “Now I’m known as a liar and a fraud and a wack job.”
Kaplan determined Trump was liable for defamation in September in light of the jury’s finding at the last trial. The defamation claim in that case stemmed from a Truth Social post in October 2022 calling Carroll a “complete con job.” Kaplan found Trump’s comments as president in the other lawsuit were substantially the same.
The case on trial stems from the first lawsuit Carroll brought against Trump years ago, which was delayed as he argued on appeal that presidents couldn’t be sued.
Wednesday’s proceedings got off to a dramatic start when Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, made yet another request to the judge to postpone Thursday’s proceedings so Trump could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral in Florida without missing trial. When Kaplan denied the request and told Habba to sit down, the defense attorney scolded the judge for his tone.
Trump is slated to take the stand as one of two witnesses for the defense. The other is Carol Martin, a friend Carroll confided in about the assault decades ago. He won’t be permitted to deny sexually assaulting Carroll or maliciously defaming her.
Trump came to the trial Tuesday fresh off the heels of his victory in the Iowa caucuses, left for a rally in New Hampshire before Carroll’s attorney gave her opening argument, and was back in New York Wednesday morning. He declined to attend the last trial with Carroll when he had a chance to defend himself against the sexual abuse allegations.
In addition to the litigation with Carroll, Trump is facing four criminal cases in which he’s pleaded not guilty as well as a slew of lawsuits.