Verdict for first time legally brands a former US president as a sexual predator but clears Trump of rape
The verdict for the first time legally brands a former US president as a sexual predator. But as it is the result of a civil not criminal case, the only legal sanction Trump will face is financial.
In explaining a finding of sexual abuse to the jury, the judge said it had two elements: that Trump subjected Carroll to sexual contact without consent by use of force, and that it was for the purpose of sexual gratification.
The jury deliberated for less than three hours. It did not find Trump raped Carroll, but did find him liable for sexual abuse.
It awarded about $5m in compensatory and punitive damages: about $2m on the sexual abuse count and close to $3m for defamation, for branding her a liar.
Before the verdict in the highly charged case, the judge, Lewis A Kaplan, warned the courtroom: “No shouting. No jumping up and down. No race for the door.”
After the verdict, as she was escorted to a car, Carroll said: “We’re very happy.”
George Conway, a conservative lawyer and Trump critic who encouraged Carroll to sue, said on Twitter: “God bless E Jean Carroll and congratulations to Roberta Kaplan [Carroll’s attorney] and her team for a job well done.”
Trump used his Truth Social platform to say: “I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. The verdict is a disgrace – a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time.”
On Tuesday, lawyers for Trump issued a statement deriding the case as “bogus” and saying they would appeal “and … ultimately win”.
Politically, Trump has capitalised on his legal woes, leading by wide margins in polling regarding the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. Nonetheless, he faces mounting legal danger.
In New York last month, Trump pleaded not guilty to 34 criminal charges of falsifying business records over a hush-money payment to the porn star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 election.
Trump looks likely to face criminal charges over attempts to overturn the 2020 election in Georgia, and is also the target of a federal investigation into his actions around the election, including his incitement of the US Capitol attack.
A federal special counsel is also investigating the stashing of secret documents at his Florida estate. In New York, Trump faces a civil suit over his business and tax affairs.
Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said he would use Carroll’s own words to disprove her allegation, showing the former Elle magazine columnist conspired with friends to falsely accuse the former president because they “hated” Trump and his politics.
But in seven days of testimony, he failed to do either.
Carroll testified that the attack left her unable to have a romantic relationship. She said Trump “shattered my reputation” by denying the attack when she went public in 2019, after which Elle sacked her in months. Trump repeatedly called Carroll a liar, including after her first day of testimony when he claimed a “made up SCAM”.
Carroll told the trial she ran into Trump as she was leaving the Bergdorf Goodman department store one evening in spring 1996.
“He said, ‘I need to buy a gift, come help me,’” she said. “I was delighted.”
Carroll said she suggested a handbag or a hat but he wasn’t interested.
“He said, ‘I know, lingerie,’” she said. “He led the way to the escalator.”
Carroll described herself as “absolutely enchanted” and “delighted” to go to the lingerie department. She told the court Trump “snatched up” a bodysuit and told her to try it on.
“I had no intention of putting it on. I said, ‘You put it on, it’s your colour’,” she said.
“He immediately shut the door and shoved me up against the wall. He shoved me so hard my head banged. I was extremely confused,” she said.
Carroll said the situation “turned absolutely dark”.
“He leaned down and pulled down my tights,” she said. “I was pushing him back. It was quite clear I didn’t want anything else to happen.”
Speaking quietly and slowly, she said Trump raped her.
Carroll said she will always regret going into the dressing room with Trump. She shed tears as she explained that since the rape she found it impossible to even smile at a man she was attracted to, and that it marked the end of her sex life.
Two of Carroll’s friends told the trial she confided in them immediately after the attack but swore them to secrecy.
Tacopina challenged Carroll during nearly two days of cross-examination. The lawyer focused on her actions during and immediately after the attack, questioning why she didn’t scream or call the police, and why she waited more than 20 years to publicly accuse Trump.
But the questioning backfired as Carroll gave confident and credible explanations, saying her inability to give a single cause for not screaming was not evidence she was lying.
Carroll said she was too “ashamed” to go to the police, even if that was the advice she gave in her Elle column.
“I was born in 1943. I’m a member of the silent generation. Women like me were taught to keep our chins up and to not complain. I would never call the police about something I am ashamed of.”
“I was never going to talk about what Donald Trump did,” she said.
But she was motivated to speak as the #MeToo movement took off and women across the US related experiences of sexual assault and harassment.
Carroll also sued Trump for defamation, having expected him to say they had a consensual encounter, not deny it altogether.
“It hit me and it laid me low because I lost my reputation. Nobody looked at me the same. It was gone. Even people who knew me looked at me with pity in their eyes, and the people who had no opinion now thought I was a liar and hated me,” she said.
Carroll said she considers Trump “evil” and a “terrible” president but denied bringing the lawsuit because of her political views.
“I’m not settling a political score. I’m settling a personal score,” she said.
Asked if she regretted accusing Trump, given the consequences, her voice broke.
“I regretted this about 100 times but, in the end, being able to get my day in court finally is everything,” she said, through tears.
Former President Donald Trump is giving Russian President Vladimir Putin two thumbs up for his decision to recognize two breakaway regions of Ukraine and send troops to the areas.
While Putin’s actions have received sharp criticism and sanctions from President Biden, Trump was full of praise for the Russian leader. During an interview on the conservative Clay Travis & Buck Sexton Show, Trump said it was “wonderful,” “so smart,” and even “genius” for Putin to “declare a big portion of the Ukraine … as independent.” He claimed Putin will now “go in” and “be a peacekeeper.” While Putin has said he’s sending troops to the breakaway regions as part of a “peacekeeping” mission, Western leaders say he is merely making it easier for Russia to launch a full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Trump also declared that Putin has “the strongest peace force I’ve ever seen,” with “more army tanks than I’ve ever seen,” and “we could use that on our southern border.” Putin is “savvy,” Trump continued, before complimenting himself by stating the Russia-Ukraine crisis “would have never happened” if he was still president.
His comments were brushed off by White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki. “As a matter of policy, we try not to take advice from anyone who praises President Putin and his military strategy, which I believe is what happened there,” Psaki told reporters on Tuesday. “And that’s probably why President Biden and not his predecessor was able to rally the world and the global community and taking steps against Russia’s aggression.”
Trump also received pushback from Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who tweeted that his “adulation of Putin today — calling him a ‘genius’ — aids our enemies. Trump’s interests don’t seem to align with the interests of the United States of America.”
A Trump Victory Is a Scary Thought. A Disputed Loss Might Be Scarier.
Donald Trump says many controversial things. And as the political world reacts accordingly, his defense of those comments is often liable to change.
And like clockwork, such is the case with his comments calling on Russia to find Hillary Clinton’s deleted emails. A day after making the comments and defending them, Trump has a novel explanation for all of it: I was joking!
Here’s his exchange with “Fox and Friends” from Thursday morning:
BRIAN KILMEADE: Clinton campaign says this is a national security issue. Now, the idea that you’d have any American calling for a foreign power to commit espionage in the U.S. for the purpose of somehow changing an election, I think that we’re now in a national security space. Your reaction?
TRUMP: You have to be kidding. His client, his person, deleted 33,000 emails illegally. You look at that. And when I’m being sarcastic with something —
KILMEADE: Were you being sarcastic?
TRUMP: Of course, I’m being sarcastic. But you have 33,000 e-mails deleted, and the real problem is what was said in those emails from the Democratic National Committee. You take a look at what was said in those emails — it’s disgraceful. It’s disgraceful. They talk about religion, they talk about race, they talk about all sorts of things, including women, and what they said in those emails is a disgrace.
Trump backer and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani offered the same explanation later on CNN: “No. He was telling a joke. When he got off the plane, he tweeted out the emails should be sent to the FBI. He was joking around.”
Here’s why this sarcasm explanation doesn’t hold water:
1. Trump campaign officials never said he was joking on Wednesday
They mounted a robust defense, mind you, but they didn’t say it was a joke.
They said he never technically advocated “hacking” into Clinton’s emails. They said he was merely urging Russia or anybody else to turn over the emails to the FBI — not use them for espionage. They accused Democrats of seizing on this to try to change the subject from the leaked DNC emails