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Trump attends the first day of E. Jean Carroll defamation trial: Highlights

Last year, the former president was found liable for defaming Carroll, a magazine writer who accused him of sexual assault.

What to know about E. Jean Carroll's defamation case:

  • Nine jurors were selected today in the trial to determine what damages former President Donald Trump owes E. Jean Carroll, the writer he was found to have defamed. Among them are a retired New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority employee and an ER doctor.
  • The court adjourned after 4:30 p.m. and will resume tomorrow.
  • Trump was in attendance at the trial the morning after he won the Iowa caucuses. U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan is overseeing the proceedings. Trump left in the afternoon to attend a rally in New Hampshire.
  • A jury last year found Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll and awarded her $5 million in damages.

Trump lawyer defends former president outside courthouse

Trump attorney Boris Epshteyn defended the former president to reporters who were waiting outside the courthouse shortly after today's proceedings adjourned.

Epshteyn listed a slew of grievances with the case and argued that the judge should have recused himself because of previous work with Carroll's attorney. Epshteyn also said Trump could not get a fair trial in New York because of his political climate and asserted a presidential immunity argument that he said should shield Trump from civil lawsuits.

"Presidents are immune from civil lawsuits because if they're not immune, no president is ever going to be able to serve their terms, to do their duties, to protect Americans," Epshteyn said. "Presidents enjoy full civil and criminal immunity."

Trump lashes out at Judge Kaplan, blames trial for absence from New Hampshire ahead of primary

Trump lashed out at Judge Kaplan in a post on Truth Social this afternoon, calling him a “Trump Hating, Radical Left Judge” and a "Bully."

Trump blamed the trial for his absence from the New Hampshire campaign trail, saying that he “should be in New Hampshire” but that instead he “had to spend time in a federal courthouse.” He is not required to be present in court, and he did not attend the first trial. He will be in New Hampshire for a rally at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Former president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump and former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll in Manhattan federal court in New York for the second defamation trial
Former President Donald Trump and former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll in Manhattan federal court in New York on Tuesday for the second defamation trial in Carroll's against Trump.Christine Cornell

Court adjourns

The trial has adjourned for the day and will continue tomorrow.

Haley says 'I haven't paid attention' to cases against Trump

Haley was asked during a CNN interview today for comment about Trump being held liable for sexual abuse, but declined to criticize the former president.

"I mean, first of all, I haven't paid attention to his his cases, and I'm not a lawyer," she said. "All I know is that he's innocent until proven guilty."

In an apparent effort to redirect the focus on Biden, she said that both Trump and Biden are being probed as part of investigations. (Biden has been investigated for classified documents found in his office and home that he promptly turned over once discovered.)

When pressed about some Republicans framing the cases against Trump as a "witch hunt," Haley said that the cases "need to be heard out, he needs to defend himself."

"If he is found guilty, he's going to pay the price. If he's not found guilty, then we move forward," she added.

Trump lawyer argues that Carroll did not suffer damages

Alina Habba, lawyer of former president and Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump
Alina Habba, a lawyer for former President Donald Trump, in Manhattan federal court in New York on Tuesday for the second defamation trial in former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's case against Trump.Christine Cornell

Trump's attorney Alina Habba argued during her opening statement that Carroll did not suffer damages from Trump; rather, Habba argued that Carroll gained fame, status and attention.

Habba said that Carroll's suits helped spark the writer's career and asserted that Carroll enjoys basking in the limelight and capitalizing on fame. Trump's lawyer alleged that Carroll enjoys her new brand and does not want to fix her reputation.

Earlier, Carroll's attorney argued that Trump's lie ruined her reputation. Her attorney also said that Trump set out to ruin Carroll's life and asked the jury to hold the former president accountable.

Carroll's attorney argues the public believed Trump's claims

Carroll's attorney, Crowley, said that the public believed Trump's denials because he made those comments from the White House, which she argued, is a place where presidents declare wars.

Crowley said that of course people across the country listened to Trump and that many believed what he said.

She added that the evidence will show that when Trump called Carroll a liar and a fraud, the public listened and believed him and his supporters latched on and bombarded her with threats.

Carroll's lawyer says they plan to call her and other experts to testify

Shawn Crowley, Carroll's lawyer, said their case will include testimony from Carroll herself and Ashley Humphries, a journalism professor from Northwestern University who testified in the 2023 defamation trial. The jury will also hear from a former editor of Elle, where Carroll was a columnist.

Carroll's attorney describes assault in opening statement

Inside the Manhattan federal court in New York for the second defamation trial of former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll against Donald Trump, on Jan. 16, 2024
Inside Manhattan federal court in New York on Tuesday for the second defamation trial in former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll's case against Donald Trump.Christine Cornell

In her opening statement, Carroll's attorney, Shawn Crowley, said that in 1996, Trump sexually assaulted the writer in a department store dressing room.

Crowley said the sexual assault has been proven by a separate trial last year. Carroll's attorney recounted that Trump, when he was president, said that he had no idea who she was, accused her of lying to make money and threatened her.

Trump then had the world's biggest megaphone to attack Carroll, Crowley said. She said that every statement from Trump was an outright lie, which she said has already been decided and proven by nine jurors. The jury, she said, heard two weeks of testimony in that trial and unanimously agreed that Trump sexually assaulted Carroll and defamed her when he falsely claimed it never happened.

Crowley said the now-seated jury in this new trial will need to decide whether Trump's defamatory statements caused Carroll harm and how much money the former president should pay her.

Judge instructs jury that facts of the case aren't in dispute

The judge told the jury that the previous trial had already established that Carroll's accusations against Trump are factual and that they are being tasked only with considering damages.

Kaplan told the jury they must accept these points as true no matter what else they hear. This trial is not a do-over or a second bite of the apple, he said.

Trump has left for New Hampshire

The former president didn't stay for opening arguments in the trial. He left for New Hampshire where he has a rally scheduled tonight, exactly a week ahead of the state's primary election.

What's at stake? Jury to decide how much Trump owes Carroll

The judge in the case has already found Trump liable for defaming Carroll with remarks he made as president in 2019 mocking her sexual assault claim against him, so the jury’s only task will be to decide how much money she should get.

Carroll is seeking at least $10 million for the damage Trump caused to her reputation and likely several times that amount in punitive damages for continuing to publicly call her account of his sexual abuse a “con job” after the defamation verdict in the other case last year.

Read the full story here.

Trial breaks for lunch

The trial has taken a lunch break.

Here are some details about the two potential jurors who think Trump is being treated unfairly

The two jurors who said they thought Trump is being treated unfairly by the court system are both 60 years old.

One grew up in British Columbia and is a corporate litigator who works for an insurance corporation.

The other potential juror has been married 36 years to an insurance agent, has children in the Army and in biotechnology and has an MBA. The potential juror lives in Westchester County and said they get news from a number of sources.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Trump's legal fights ...

The New York State Court of Appeals said today that Trump's appeal of the gag order in the New York civil fraud trial has been dismissed.

It said that there was "no substantial constitutional question" that was "directly involved."

"Motion for a stay dismissed as academic," the court said.

Two potential jurors say Trump is being treated unfairly by the court system

The judge asked the jury pool if Trump is being treated unfairly by the nation's court system and two potential jurors seemed to indicate that they do agree with that statement.

One potential juror says they've seen Trump's social media posts about Carroll

Asked if anyone in the pool has seen Trump's social media posts about Carroll, one potential juror said yes and also that they can remain fair.

The jury pool was also asked if they've heard about other criminal investigations, cases and trials involving Trump. Many of them raised their hands, and two said they could have an issue. One of the two was excused.

Two potential jurors say they believed the 2020 presidential election was stolen

Judge Kaplan asked the potential jurors if anyone believed the 2020 presidential election was stolen. Two people in the pool said yes and Trump turned around to look at them.

The judge moved on without further questioning those two potential jurors.

The judge then asked whether anyone in the jury pool follows Trump on social media and two said yes. Trump again turned around to see who they were.

Judge asks if anyone knows Carroll personally or worked for Trump

The judge has asked if anyone in the jury pool knows Carroll or her family personally and no one said yes.

One woman, meanwhile, said that she has worked for the president's elder daughter, Ivanka Trump, doing communications work for her company in 2017. The potential juror added that she knew Ivanka Trump personally, but said that she can remain impartial and continues to stay for the voir dire process.

The voir dire process has begun for jury selection

The jury pool is being brought in slowly for the voir dire process for attorneys to question potential jurors. Kaplan is known for his expediency in picking a jury.

Judge says case will take approximately four days

The judge has laid out a timeline for the first days of the case, with Carroll’s attorney saying their case will take approximately two and a half days to present.

The defense says their case will take about one and a half days, adding that Carol Martin, one of Carroll's close friends, will serve as a witness and that Trump may be testifying.

After jurors were sworn in, Kaplan said the trial will take three to five days, including today. If they're not done by the end of the week, the trial will continue Monday. They'll meet from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. ET.

Judge says Carroll and Trump can't speak to jurors except on the witness stand

Kaplan was adamant in stating that Carroll and Trump cannot say anything to any juror unless on the stand and under oath.

Only lawyers can make objections. Trump attorney Michael T. Madaio said his client and his legal team should not be gagged. Kaplan said there is no gag order, they just cannot have any communication with jurors.

Trump arrives and walks into courtroom

Trump arrived around 9:40 a.m. ET and ambled into the courtroom, walking to his seat. He took off his overcoat and sat at the defense table next to attorney Alina Habba.

Carroll has also arrived and is sitting two rows in front of Trump with her back to him.

Trump suggests he couldn't have met Carroll in a department store because he is an 'A-List celebrity'

Trump suggested in a Truth Social post that there's no way he would have met Carroll several decades ago because he has been long considered an "A-List celebrity." His post went up as he arrived in court.

Trump wrote that he has been "wrongfully accused by a woman he never met, saw, or touched (a photo line does not count!), and knows absolutely nothing about," he wrote. "I have been considered an A-List celebrity for many decades, so even decades ago, since no one knows which date or dates to refer to, because the accusing woman can’t say the day, month, season, year, or decade, it would have been impossible for me to walk into a crowded department store (surrounded by buildings I own), right opposite the cashiers’ checkout desk, without being written about on Page Six, and every other outlet at the time. Remember, those gossip columnists were, perhaps, even more vicious and obsessed than the Internet of today."

Prominent N.Y. attorney no longer representing Trump in Carroll, hush money cases

Joe Tacopina is no longer representing Trump in his hush money case and the appeal of the Carroll verdict, the New York attorney told NBC News yesterday.

Tacopina says he has withdrawn from all matters related to Trump. He declined to comment further and it is not clear why he chose to quit now on the eve of Trump’s defamation case.

He was not expected to represent Trump at this week's trial. Tacopina represented Trump in last year's trial brought by Carroll and lost the case costing Trump $5 million.

The longtime New York attorney has represented everyone from Alex Rodriguez to Sean Hannity and various mafia figures including John Gotti. Trump will be represented by Alina Habba and her firm in the defamation case and Todd Blanche and Susan Necheles will represent him in the hush money case which could come to trial as soon as March. 

Trump says the Carroll trial is election interference

Trump wrote on Truth Social this morning that after his victory in the Iowa caucuses last night, he's going to "the Biden encouraged Witch Hunt in Lower Manhattan to fight against a FAKE Case from a woman I have never met, seen, or touched (Celebrity Lines don’t count!)."

Trump provided no evidence that Biden was involved with the civil case brought by Carroll, who first sued the former president in 2019.

"Naturally, it starts right after Iowa, and during the very important New Hampshire Primary where, despite their sinister attempts, I will be tonight! It is a giant Election Interference Scam, pushed and financed by political operatives. I had no idea who this woman was. PURE FICTION!" he wrote in his post.

Trump expected to attend today's proceedings

Trump plans to attend the start of the new Carroll civil damages trial today, according to two sources familiar with his travel plans.

The former president will travel from Des Moines, Iowa, to New York City following the state’s caucuses that NBC News projected he won last night.

Cameras are not allowed in the U.S. District Court where the case is being heard and it is unlikely the U.S. Secret Service would allow Trump to address cameras in front of the courthouse.

Trump is set to travel to New Hampshire for a campaign event tonight. The New Hampshire primary will take place next Tuesday.

Read the full story here.

What is the case about?

The trial centers on a defamation case brought by Carroll, a magazine writer who accused the former president of raping her in the 1990s, then defaming her when she went public with her allegations.

A New York jury last year found Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll. She was awarded $5 million in damages in May. The jury did not find Trump liable for the rape allegations.

The second trial, set to start today, involves Trump’s public comments about Carroll that he made both while he was president and after the jury’s verdict in May.

Read the full story here.

What to expect from the trial today

Jury selection begins in the morning in federal court in lower Manhattan, and the panel will have to determine how much in damages Donald Trump should pay E. Jean Carroll for defamatory comments he made about her when he was president and after a different jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation last year.

Jury selection is expected to take a few hours in the morning, and will then be followed by opening statements in a trial that could result in Trump being hit with a judgment in the tens of millions of dollars.

Trump has said he plans to testify in his own defense. “I’m going to explain I don’t know who the hell she is,” he told reporters Thursday. 

Read the full story here.