Former president breaks judge’s rules and leaves courtroom in frustration
Former President Donald Trump took the witness stand for less than three minutes on Thursday in a New York defamation trial, where he is being sued by writer E. Jean Carroll for calling her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault. Trump violated the judge’s rules by claiming that Carroll’s allegations were a “false accusation” and that he wanted to defend himself, his family and the presidency. He was rebuked by the judge and told to disregard his remarks. As he left the courtroom, he shook his head and repeated: “This is not America.”
Carroll seeks over $10 million in damages for Trump’s statements
Carroll, a longtime advice columnist, alleges that Trump attacked her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman store in Manhattan in 1996. She went public with her story in a 2019 memoir, prompting Trump to deny her claims and call her “sick” and a “whack job”. Carroll sued Trump for defamation, seeking over $10 million in damages for harming her reputation and career. She claims that Trump’s statements were motivated by malice and intended to intimidate and silence her.
Trump’s testimony was limited by the judge due to legal complexities
Trump’s testimony on Thursday was highly anticipated, as it was the first time he directly addressed a jury about Carroll’s claims. However, his appearance was brief and restricted by the judge, who limited his lawyers to asking a handful of yes-or-no questions, such as whether he made his negative statements in response to an accusation and did not intend anyone to harm Carroll. The judge also instructed the jury to ignore any statements that were not relevant to the defamation case, such as Trump’s opinions on Carroll’s allegations or his presidency.
The reason for the judge’s limitations was that the trial was only focused on statements Trump made in June 2019, while he was president. Those statements had been delayed for four years by appeals. A related trial, which Trump did not attend, was held last spring, where a different jury found that Trump did sexually abuse Carroll and that some of his comments were defamatory, awarding her $5 million. The judge told the jurors that they must accept the findings of the previous trial as facts.
Trump stands by his deposition and leaves the courtroom in dismay
Despite the judge’s rules, Trump tried to express his views on Carroll’s allegations, saying that he considered them to be a “false accusation” and that he “just wanted to defend himself, his family and, frankly, the presidency”. He was interrupted by Carroll’s lawyer, who objected to his remarks, and by the judge, who told the jury to disregard them. Trump also said that he stood by his 2022 deposition, where he vehemently denied Carroll’s allegations and called her names. He said he was “100%” sure of his deposition.
After his testimony, Trump left the courtroom during a break, shaking his head and saying to the spectators: “This is not America. This is not America. This is not America.” He did not look at the jury or Carroll during his appearance. Carroll, who was present in the courtroom, watched him testify and leave.
The trial, which began last week, is expected to last for several more days. Carroll and other witnesses have already testified for her side. Trump’s lawyers are expected to call more witnesses to support his defense.