Updated Jan 26, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump ordered to pay $83.3 million to E. Jean Carroll in defamation trial

Writer E. Jean Carroll arriving at a Manhattan courthouse in New York City on Jan. 26.

Writer E. Jean Carroll arriving at a Manhattan courthouse in New York City on Jan. 26. Photo: Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A jury ordered on Friday that former President Trump must pay writer E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million for his defamatory statements against her, multiple outlets reported.

Driving the news: The verdict came after a jury found he had damaged Carroll's reputation after she accused him of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s.

  • Closing arguments in the trial had finished earlier Friday.
  • The jury awarded Carroll $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages — bringing the total to $83.3 million, per multiple outlets.

Details: Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, also asked the jury on Friday to order Trump to pay at least $24 million in damages, according to multiple outlets.

  • As for punitive damages, Kaplan told the jury that only "unusually high" damages would prevent Trump from again defaming Carroll, reminding them of his wealth, according to CNN.
  • She earlier told the jury that it would take at least $12 million to repair her client's damaged reputation, a figure that was established by an expert witness earlier in the trial.
  • The jury began deliberating around 1:45 pm EST, according to NBC News.

What they're saying: "This is a great victory for every woman who stands up when she's been knocked down, and a huge defeat for every bully who has tried to keep a woman down," Carroll said in a statement shared with Axios on Friday.

  • Kaplan said that the verdict "proves that the law applies to everyone in our country, even the rich, even the famous, even former presidents."
  • "There is a way to stand up to someone like Donald Trump who cares more about wealth, fame, and power than respecting the law. Standing up to a bully takes courage and bravery; it takes someone like E. Jean Carroll," Kaplan added.

The other side: Alina Habba, Trump's attorney, told reporters outside the courthouse on Friday that they will "immediately appeal" the verdict and "set aside that ridiculous jury."

  • "Absolutely ridiculous!" Trump said in a post Friday on Truth Social following the verdict.
  • "I fully disagree with both verdicts, and will be appealing this whole Biden Directed Witch Hunt focused on me and the Republican Party."
  • "Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!" Trump added.

In a later post on Truth Social, Trump said: "There is no longer Justice in America. Our Judicial System is Broken and Unfair!"

State of play: A separate jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the 1990s and later defaming her.

  • The jury in the current trial was only determining how much in damages the former president will pay her for defamation by denying that established fact.
  • The trial was also determining the damages Trump owes after remarks he made about Carroll during a televised CNN town hall last year after he was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

Details: Trump left the New York federal courtroom Friday after Kaplan began giving her closing arguments.

  • After Trump stormed out, Presiding Judge Lewis Kaplan (no relation to Roberta) briefly interrupted the closing argument and said: "The record will reflect that Mr. Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom."
  • Trump returned to the courtroom before his defense began its closing arguments.

Habba implied in closing that Carroll lied about the assault for fame — a claim Judge Kaplan rejected, again citing the previous trial, according to NBC News.

  • She also argued that Trump should not be responsible for the threats and harmful messages Carroll received hours after he initially denied her rape accusations.

Context: The current trial is over Carroll's original 2019 defamation lawsuit against Trump, who is the clear frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 election.

  • While in the White House, Trump mocked Carroll and claimed that she fabricated her rape accusations against him to boost her book sales.
  • She filed a second lawsuit in 2022 against Trump, which ended last year with a jury finding him liable and ordering him to pay Carroll $5 million in damages.

Trump appeared in person in court for several days throughout the trial and briefly testified on Thursday before the defense rested its case.

  • Kaplan set restrictions on Trump's testimony, ordering that the he could not argue that he did not sexually abuse or defame Carroll since the previous jury established that he had.
  • Kaplan threatened to remove Trump from the courtroom on Jan. 17 for making disruptive remarks during the proceedings.

Zoom out: Trump, who's running for president again, has been using the courtroom for the many legal cases against him as a campaign stop of sorts — lashing out at judges, lambasting prosecutors and casting himself as a victim of illegitimate proceedings.

  • He has repeatedly attempted to dismiss or delay the lawsuit at the center of the current trial by citing presidential immunity and filing a counter-lawsuit against Carroll, both of which were rejected by the courts.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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