E. Jean Carroll’s defamation trial against Donald Trump resumed on Thursday, and this time it was the president himself who was in the hot seat. The former president took the witness stand in Manhattan civil court for a brief testimony largely devoid of the theatrics seen in his previous court outbursts.
Trump’s questioning was short. His attorney, Alina Habba, asked him if he stood by his deposition for the case, in which he denied Caroll’s allegations against him multiple times. He responded “100 percent yes.”
Just two questions in, the former president broke Judge Lewis Kaplans explicit prohibition on efforts to cast doubt on the veracity of Carroll’s accusations against Trump. When asked if he denied Caroll’s claims in order to defend himself, Trump stated “Yes, I did. That’s exactly right. She said something I considered a false accusation.” Kaplan had everything after the former president’s affirmation stricken from the court record.
A second comment was stricken when Trump responded “No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family and frankly, the presidency” to a question regarding whether he had ever asked anyone to hurt Carroll.
His cross-examination only lasted three minutes, according to Politico.
At one point before Trump’s testimony, before the jury was brought into the room, Kaplan ordered the former president to “please keep [his] voice down,” after the Trump was heard commenting that he “wasn’t at the [last] trial. I don’t know who [Carroll] is. I never met this woman.”
Before allowing the former president to take the stand, Kaplan gave a stern reminder to his attorneys that Trump is not allowed to contest the legitimacy of past rulings finding him liable for abuse and defamation. “Ms. Habba, I will decide what he has the right to do. That’s my job, not yours,” Kaplan said in an exchange with Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba.
Last year, a jury found Trump liable of sexually abusing and defaming Carroll in a separate case Carroll. Trump repeatedly attacked Carroll after she accused him in 2019 of raping her the ‘90s. Trump was ordered to pay $5 million in damages. The former president has already been found liable by default in Carroll’s current defamation case. The jury is tasked with determining how much Trump owes her in additional damages
Trump did not testify in his first trial involving Carroll, but past testimony in a separate civil fraud case brought by New York Attorney General went completely off the rails. Trump’s Thursday testimony was much more restrained — mostly because Kaplan has made clear he does not tolerate outburst in his courtroom.
Kaplan has repeatedly reprimanded Trump and his legal team for their conduct within the courtroom. Last week, he threatened to have the former president removed from the room after Trump repeatedly disrupted proceedings via a stream of commentary and reactions to testimony from his place at the defense table. “Mr. Trump has the right to be present here, but that right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive and if he disregards court orders,” Kaplan said. “I understand you are very eager for me to do that, I know you would because you just can’t control yourself in this circumstance.”
The trial was supposed to resume earlier this week, but Kaplan delayed it until Thursday. He did not specify his reasoning, but one juror had reported feeling sick earlier in the week. The former president traveled to New Hampshire on Tuesday in order to attend the state’s primary contest, which he handily won. Habba also reported feeling unwell after being exposed to Covid-19, but was spotted at Trump’s New Hampshire victory party looking fit as a fiddle on Tuesday night. Kaplan has previously sparred with Habba in court, shooting down her regular requests to delay the trial and reprimanding her in-court conduct.
Prior to his in court appearance, Trump once again spent hours railing against Carroll on social media. He repeatedly attacked Carroll’s credibility, writing in one post that the entire debacle was a “HOAX run and funded by Political Operatives!!!”
“Until the filing of this ridiculous lawsuit against me, I knew nothing about this woman, never heard of her, never touched her, had nothing to do with her. THIS IS A FALSE ACCUSATION FORCED INTO THE PUBLIC EYE BY DEMOCRAT OPERATIVES LIKE HER LAWYER, HER FUNDERS, AND OTHERS. LOOK AT HER MANY CRAZY TWEETS, THEY SAY IT ALL — Another HOAX” Trump wrote in another post.
Given that Carroll’s attorneys have taken to entering the former president’s social media posts and public ravings about Carroll into evidence, Trump may be digging himself into a deeper hole with every word he utters about the case.
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