NEW YORK — The notoriety that came with being subjected to an onslaught of abuse by Donald Trump and his hordes of followers is no measure of success, E. Jean Carroll told a Manhattan Federal Court jury Thursday.
“Yes, I’m more well known — and I’m hated by a lot more people,” Carroll, 80, said in response to a question from Trump lawyer Alina Habba during her second and last day on the witness stand.
In a cross-examination rife with sustained objections, Habba asked Carroll if her reputation was better today than it was before she came forward in a 2019 about being sexually assaulted by Trump in 1996.
“No, my status was lowered,” Carroll replied matter-of-factly. “I’m partaking in this trial to bring my old reputation and status back.”
Carroll is testifying in one of her two lawsuits against Trump.
In one suit, a jury last year determined Trump sexually assaulted her in a Midtown department store in the mid-1990s and defamed her decades later as “a complete con job” on Truth Social when he’d left the White House, awarding her $5 million in damages.
Jurors at this week’s trial in Carroll’s other suit will determine how much if anything Trump owes Carroll for statements he made while still in the White House. The jurors will also decide whether Trump should be forced to pay punitive damages to deter him from defaming Carroll in the future. The judge has already determined Trump is liable for defamation.
Damages to Carroll’s reputation could cost Trump even more millions, said an expert who followed Carroll on the witness stand.
The expert, Northwestern University sociologist Ashlee Humphreys, told jurors that her analysis found Trump’s 2019 statements defaming Carroll were viewed between 104.1 million and 85.8 million times on TV, social media, and in news articles — and by a “receptive audience” of between 21.2 million and 24.7 million people likely to take Trump for his word.
Humphreys called her estimate conservative, as she didn’t consider all media sources.
She estimated the cost of repairing the “severe” harm to Carroll’s reputation caused by Trump’s statements would be between $7.2 million and $12.1 million.
The jury could decide Trump, 77, owes far more than that in punitive damages for continuing to defame Carroll.
Humphreys testified that Trump’s statements led Carroll to be widely associated with being a liar, having a political agenda, and being in cahoots with Democrats.
“Any time that her name appeared, those associations appeared as well,” Humphreys said. “I determined that they did affect her reputation, particularly as a journalist, as someone whose work is based (on) the facts.”
Humphreys said that given “the attitudes at issue here are strongly held,” it would be challenging to mount a “corrective messaging” campaign to successfully clear Carroll’s name. But she proposed that one way to go about it would be to pay influencers like Joe Rogan and Candace Owen to spread positive messages about Carroll.
Before Carroll left the stand Thursday, Habba asked about a string of tweets Trump supporters posted in the five hours after her sexual assault allegations were published in New York magazine and before Trump reacted to them. The questioning implied that the blowback directly resulted form the magazine article, and not by Trump.
Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, asked her client on redirect whether any of the tweets Habba highlighted accused her of being a paid operative for the Democrats, as Trump suggested. She also asked if the tweets said she should be in jail or that she should be raped or killed.
“No,” Carroll answered each time.
“Would you prefer to have the reputation you have now, with all those Twitter followers, or the reputation you had before?” Kaplan asked.
“Reputation before,” Carroll said.
Trump, who was in court for the first two days of the trial, skipped the proceedings Thursday to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral in Florida. His lawyers say they plan to call him to the stand next week.
The former president was a disruptive presence in the courtroom on Wednesday, when Judge Lewis Kaplan scolded him for scoffing at Carroll’s testimony in front of the jury
When Kaplan threatened to bar Trump from the trial if he kept it up, the former president replied to the judge: “I would love it.” Trump has derided the judge and Carroll on his Truth Social account all week.
The trial resumes on Monday.