Updated Jan 17, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Judge threatens to boot Trump from court during E. Jean Carroll defamation trial

Trump arriving at court

Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower for Manhattan federal court in New York City on Jan. 17. Photo: Charly Triballeau/AFP via Getty Images

The federal judge presiding over former President Trump's defamation trial involving author E. Jean Carroll threatened to remove the former president from the courtroom Wednesday for his disruptive remarks during the proceedings, multiple outlets reported.

Why it matters: The trial is set to determine how much Trump — who has already been found liable for defaming Carroll — must pay in damages to her.

State of play: The reprimand came after Carroll's lawyer Shawn Crowley made a second complaint about Trump making comments to his lawyers that the jury could hear, per ABC News.

  • Crowley said Trump could be heard making comments like, "It is a witch hunt" and "It really is a con job," CNN reported.
  • "Mr. Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which is what has been reported to me," Judge Lewis Kaplan said, per ABC News.
  • Kaplan added that he hoped he wouldn't have to exclude Trump from the trial. "I understand you are probably very eager for me to do that," Kaplan added.
  • Trump reportedly responded by throwing his hands up, saying, "I would love it, I would love it," per ABC News.
  • "I know you would, because you can't control yourself in this circumstance," Kaplan shot back.

What they're saying: Trump took to Truth Social Wednesday afternoon to post that he felt an "obligation to be at every moment of this ridiculous trial."

  • "I want to be at this Witch Hunt 100% of the time and watch what is going on," he added.

The big picture: Trump appeared at the trial voluntarily and has denied wrongdoing in the case.

  • Kaplan ruled in September that Trump was liable for defamatory remarks he made against Carroll when he denied her rape accusations in 2019.
  • This is the second civil trial Trump has faced over a defamation claim from Carroll.
  • Last year, a jury held Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation and ordered him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.

Zoom out: Trump has tried repeatedly to delay or dismiss Carroll's original lawsuit.

  • Last month, a federal appeals court rejected Trump's bid to delay the trial while the Supreme Court weighed his claim to presidential immunity.
  • Trump also filed a counter-lawsuit against Carroll last year, claiming she defamed him. Kaplan threw that lawsuit out in August 2023.
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