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Highlights: Trump takes the stand in the E. Jean Carroll defamation case

The trial resumed today following a three-day hiatus because of Covid concerns and after the former president's primary victory in New Hampshire.

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

  • Former President Donald Trump testified today in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation damages case against him.
  • Carroll has successfully brought an earlier defamation case against Trump. Last year, a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing the magazine writer in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s and for defaming her by saying she had fabricated the story. Based on that verdict, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan found Trump liable for defaming her in the current case, paving the way for the damages trial.
  • Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in compensatory damages for "injury to her reputation, humiliation and mental anguish in her public and private life," as well as unspecified punitive damages.
  • Carroll’s lawyers called former Elle magazine editor-in-chief Roberta Myers to testify about Carroll’s reputation. Trump’s team then called Carol Martin, a former anchor at WCBS-TV in New York, to testify as well.

Trump has left the courthouse

Trump has left the New York courthouse.

Court will resume tomorrow with closing arguments

Court will resume tomorrow at 9:30 a.m. with closing arguments.

Testimony concludes in trial

The testimony in the trial has concluded.

Trump leaves the stand

Trump answered a handful of a questions and then left the stand.

Cross-examination of Trump is quick

The cross-examination by Carroll's lawyer was only a few questions.

Habba asks Trump if he denies Carroll's allegations

Habba asked Trump if he denies the allegations made by Carroll. The former president said he considers it a false allegation.

His comment, however, was stricken from the record. The judge instructed Trump that he couldn't relitigate the allegations.

Trump says he stands by the deposition he gave in this case

When asked if he stands by his deposition in this case in which he repeatedly denied the allegations against him, Trump said "100%".

When asked if he ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll, Trump said “I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly the presidency”.

The defense calls Trump

Habba has called Trump to the stand. He has been sworn in.

The jury is back in the courtroom

The jury has entered the courtroom for Trump's testimony.

Judge says he will permit Trump to take the stand

Kaplan said he will allow Trump to testify — but will only allow him to be asked if he stands by his previous statement.

Judge admonishes Trump for interrupting

While Trump's lawyer and the judge were speaking, Trump interrupted to say he doesn't know Carroll and has never met her.

The judge told Trump to keep his voice down and said interruptions are not permitted.

Habba and Kaplan clash over Trump testimony

After the judge addressed the courtroom that Trump was not allowed to deny that he sexually assaulted Carroll, Habba stated that Trump would deny the allegations. The judge pressed her on what Trump would say on the stand, asking if that was "100% of what he would say." Habba replied that she "can't say what he is going to say".

Kaplan instructed her that she could only ask Trump about his actions in the aftermath of the allegations, not the substance of them.

Judge asks Habba what questions she intends to ask Trump

The judge asked Habba what questions she plans to ask Trump on the stand.

Habba says she will ask him if he stands by his testimony, whether he made the statements in response to her accusations and whether he ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll.

Judge warns that Trump cannot re-litigate whether he sexually assaulted Carroll

The judge says that before Trump takes the stand, he has a few things to say, including that Trump cannot offer any evidence or dispute the previously made determinations that he sexually assaulted Carroll or defamed her.

The judge said that a prior action cannot be re-litigated and there are no do-overs.

Trump's other lawyers are present in the courtroom

Susan Necheles and Todd Blanche, who are representing Trump in criminal proceedings related to his alleged hush money payments to Stormy Daniels, are in the courthouse today. They had lunch with Trump's attorneys in this case during the recess.

Do you have another witness? Yes, Mr. Trump

Kaplan started the afternoon by asking Habba if she has any more witnesses. She responded yes, she would be calling Trump.

Trial has resumed

The trial has resumed and Trump is seated in the courtroom with his hands clasped in front of him.

Trump spokesperson was removed from courtroom after phone alarm went off

Trump spokesman Steven Cheung was removed from the courtroom shortly after his phone alarm went off amid Martin’s testimony.

“Whose telephone is that?” Kaplan asked, adding that there are strict rules about phone use in court.

Lunch break begins

Martin is dismissed from the stand. There is a lunch break until 1:50 p.m., after which Trump is expected to take the stand.

Martin feared Trump's attacks on Carroll would 'escalate and get worse' if she brought another lawsuit against him

Asked by Crowley if she knows if Carroll has been harmed by Trump’s statements, Martin replied, “I do,” adding that she had concerns for her own safety, as well as her daughter’s, in 2019.

Martin said she was concerned for her safety because she had been involved in the lawsuit and is a “huge consumer” of the news.

Asked whether she was concerned about Carroll bringing another lawsuit against Trump, Martin said she was. Martin said she feared that Trump’s attacks on Carroll would “escalate and get worse” as he continued to deny her allegations.

Martin says she went to six parties about the two Carroll lawsuits

Asked by Habba whether she believes publicity is part of Carroll’s lifestyle, Martin said, “It is an extension of her lifestyle.”

Martin testified that Carroll hosted parties that gathered a bunch of journalists, including some small gatherings, over a 40-year period.

Habba asked Martin how many parties she has attended relating to both of Carroll’s lawsuits. Martin replied, “Maybe six.”

Martin described a two-day celebration as being over the top, which she might have told her sister and daughter about.

“Were you frustrated with her celebratory nature?” Habba asked Martin.

Martin replied that she was frustrated “at some point,” noting that it shows a “difference in our personalities” that they work around.

Martin refers to her message about Carroll's motives as 'a bad choice' of words

Martin also testified that she’d been friends with Carroll for more than 30 years. She was one of two people Carroll told about the Trump assault at the time it happened. Asked if Carroll enjoyed the attention she received after she went public with her accusation, Martin said, “At points, in early years.” 

Asked if she was “loving the adulation” she was receiving at one point, Martin said, “Yes.”

Asked about a text she’d sent someone else saying she was suspicious of Carroll’s motives, Martin initially said she didn’t recall it and then called it “a bad choice of words on my part.”

Judge says 'door is closed' to allegations of George Soros funding Carroll

When Trump's attorney tried to introduce evidence that purportedly showed that Carroll was aware of alleged efforts by George Soros to fund her defense, the judge declared that "the door is closed" to those allegation.

A nonprofit group funded by democratic donor Reid Hoffman did contribute to Carroll's legal fees, but there is no evidence to suggest that Soros, the subject of many right-wing conspiracy theories, was involved.

Martin, former anchor and friend of Carroll, testifies

Martin, a former news anchorwoman in New York, has taken the stand. Martin, a friend of Carroll, has previously testified that Carroll told her of the assault when it happened. She is being treated by the defense as a hostile witness.

Habba points to deleted tweets by Carroll, arguing insufficient evidence of causation

Habba said it can’t be argued that Trump’s statements caused Carroll harm as opposed to her article in The Cut, when she accused Trump of sexually assaulting her.

Asked by Kaplan if she’s saying there is insufficient evidence of causation, Habba said: “Yes.”

Habba pointed to Carroll’s prior tweets, which she described as being lewd, and claimed that Carroll had deleted the exact evidence she now relies on to support her accusation of emotional harm.

Pressed by the judge on when the deletion occurred, Habba said it happened the day The Cut article came out.

The judge then asked whether there is a subpoena showing the deletion, Habba said Carroll had acknowledged it.

Habba argued that Carroll has not proven her claims or causation and therefore committed a violation of discovery.

The judge denied Habba's request.

The plaintiff rests

Attorneys for Carroll have ended their arguments. Lawyers for Trump are up next.

Trial has resumed

The trial has resumed after a break.

Trump lawyer asks judge to rule in their favor before presenting a defense

Trump's lawyer Habba asked the judge to simply give them a judgment, arguing that the plaintiff's side failed to make their case. It's not unusual for defendants to make such a motion — and its rare for judges to grant them.

Court takes a break

The court has taken a break for 10 minutes. The jury has left the courtroom.

Myers details the friendly relationship she had with Carroll when she edited her column

Myers took the stand, recalling meeting Carroll when she was an assignment editor and noting that she previously spoke about her experience publicly on MSNBC.

She testified about meeting Trump when she appeared on an episode of "Celebrity Apprentice" in her role as editor of Elle, and said he was friendly. She said she has not spoken with him since then.

After noting that she is a registered Democrat, she described her role as an editor in assigning who wrote stories, particularly seeking seasoned writers. Myers said Carroll fit the bill, praising her as an accomplished journalist who is intelligent and came with a tremendous amount of energy.

Myers said she would edit Carroll’s column “Ask E. Jean” and ask her questions about it. She said they had a friendly relationship, but Carroll never spoke to her about her personal life.

Myers went on to say that Carroll wrote well and that she gave her a raise during her time as editor-in-chief because she was a prominent columnist at the magazine. She added that Carroll’s column was still popular by the time she left Elle.

Video of Trump's post-court presser, Truth Social posts entered into evidence

Attorneys for Carroll entered evidence including Trump's post-trial press conference from last week, in which he called the court case "rigged" and said he had "no idea" who Carroll was. Several Truth Social posts in which Trump references Carroll were also entered into evidence.

Trump is in the courtroom

Trump is in the courtroom, seated next to attorney Habba. He is looking at Myers as she testifies.

Court is delayed awaiting arrival of Trump and Kaplan

As the court awaits the arrival of Trump and Kaplan, attorneys are discussing among themselves.

Trump arrives at the courthouse

Trump’s motorcade arrived at the courthouse moments ago. He arrived via the back garage, so the former president himself was not visible to reporters.

Security at the court is, as usual, extremely tight. Carroll appears to be in a good mood and talkative as she waits in line to go through security on the 26th floor.

Myers, Carroll’s boss when she wrote for the magazine, is expected to be the first witness. Then Carroll’s attorneys will play about 30 minutes of tape of Trump’s deposition before they rest their case.

What to expect at trial today

Carroll is expected to wrap up her case early in the day, allowing Trump’s defense to begin.

Kaplan has found Trump liable for defaming Carroll and therefore has limited what the former president can say. In a ruling last month, Kaplan barred Trump from "offering any testimony, evidence or argument suggesting or implying that he did not sexually assault Ms. Carroll, that she fabricated her account of the assault, or that she had any motive to do so."

Trump, however, hasn't said that he will abide by that order. Before the trial started, he told reporters, “I’m going to explain I don’t know who the hell she is.”

Carroll’s attorneys also plan to play for the jury excerpts from Trump's videotaped deposition in October 2022. In it, Trump called Carroll’s claims a “big fat hoax” and insisted that “physically, she’s not my type.”

Carroll’s lawyers are expected to call Myers to testify about Carroll’s reputation. Trump’s team might call Martin to testify, as well.

Trump bashes Carroll and Kaplan in the hours leading up to courtroom appearance

In a post on Truth Social last night, Trump said he is heading back to New York City for the Carroll defamation trial that he maintains is centered around “false accusations” against him.

Trump first touted his decisive wins in the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary before going on to bash Carroll and Kaplan.

“I’m heading back to New York City for a trial based on False Accusations, from perhaps decades ago — The woman has no idea when!” he wrote, referring to Carroll. 

“The Federal Judge in this Second Biden Political Opponent ‘Trial’ is extraordinarily hostile to me — Sadly, and I don’t know why, a 100% Trump Hater,” he added, referring to Kaplan. “He knows I did nothing wrong, but is looking to do a number on me. Only in America!”

The former president ramped up his attacks on Carroll in the days leading up to the start of the trial in the defamation case against him Jan. 16.

Trump has also previously accused Kaplan of being biased, complaining that the judge “hated President Donald J. Trump more than is humanly possible” after a jury found the former president liable in a separate case last year for sexually abusing Carroll in a New York City department store in the 1990s.

Trump likely to testify as Carroll damages trial resumes after Covid delay

Trump will be back today in a federal courthouse in New York City, where he’s expected to testify in his own defense in Carroll’s defamation case against him.

He was initially expected to testify Monday, but the proceedings were postponed after a juror fell ill and Trump attorney Alina Habba told the judge she’d been exposed to the coronavirus and was feeling sick. Habba and her co-counsel Michael Madaio both tested negative for the virus Monday.

Trump, who defeated Nikki Haley in Tuesday’s GOP presidential primary in New Hampshire during the three-day postponement, is likely to take the stand in the early afternoon.

Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in compensatory damages for “injury to her reputation, humiliation and mental anguish in her public and private life,” in addition to an unspecified amount in punitive damages to “punish Trump for acting maliciously and to deter Trump and others” from continuing to defame her. An expert who testified on Carroll’s behalf put the cost of repairing her reputation alone at $7 million to $12 million.

Read the full story here.