Trump asks judge to cut the $83.3 million penalty in E. Jean Carroll case or grant him a new trial

In a longshot bid, former President Donald Trump is asking the judge overseeing E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against him to significantly reduce the $83.3 million jury award or grant a new trial.

Trump argued that Judge Lewis Kaplan wrongly prohibited him from defending himself during his brief testimony and that warrants a new trial.

In court filings Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers said Kaplan erred when he stopped Trump from testifying about “his own state of mind” and when he gave an “erroneous jury instruction on the definition of common-law malice.” Trump’s lawyers said the jury should have been told they needed to find that it was Trump’s “sole, exclusive desire to harm” Carroll.

“This Court’s erroneous decision to dramatically limit the scope of President Trump’s testimony almost certainly influenced the jury’s verdict, and thus a new trial is warranted,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Before the trial began, Kaplan restricted Trump’s testimony, saying he could not deny raping Carroll or deny making the defamatory statements following a judgment that was already determined by a different jury in 2023. The judge made the attorneys preview what questions Trump would be asked and what his answers would be. In the end, Trump answered just a handful of questions.

The new legal effort comes as Trump has asked Kaplan for more time to post the bond, which is due shortly. Trump asked the judge to give him 30 days after the judge rules on post-trial briefs. Carroll opposed the request, saying Trump hasn’t provided any evidence that he can afford the payment. The judge is weighing the request.

In the latest legal motion Trump’s attorneys focused on Trump’s testimony and one exchange when Trump was asked by his lawyer, “Did you ever instruct anyone to hurt Ms. Carroll in your statements?”

Trump replied, “No. I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.”

Carroll’s attorney objected and the judge struck from the record what Trump said after “no.”

“This was error, and it was prejudicial,” Trump’s lawyers wrote.

Trump’s attorneys reiterated arguments made during the trial that Carroll didn’t connect Trump’s statements about her to the negative and harassing messages she received once she went public about being sexually assaulted by Trump in the mid-1990s. The judge previously rejected that argument.

Trump’s lawyers also argued the jury award was out of bounds with other verdicts and should be reduced.

The $7.3 million awarded for compensatory damages warrants a “significant reduction” to $125,000 or less, they said, since her harm was “garden variety.”

The $11 million Carroll was awarded to repair her reputation should be reduced, they said, because it was “excessive” when compared with other verdicts, including the $1.7 million in reputation repair that a different a jury awarded Carroll in 2023.

Trump’s lawyers said the $65 million in punitive damages is “grossly excessive” and should be reduced to a 1-to-1 a ratio with compensatory damages.

Carroll opposed Trump’s attempt to lower the awards, calling one of his arguments “laughable” and saying the evidence showed that Trump’s defamation of Carroll increased after the 2023 verdict as he continued to make repeat the defamatory comments.

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