Former President Donald Trump mocked E. Jean Carroll as a "whack job" and insisted her account of being sexually assaulted by him decades ago was "fake" and "made up" one day after a jury found him liable for sexually abusing and defaming the writer.
During a CNN town hall at St. Anselm College in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Trump was pressed on the verdict, one in which a nine-person New York jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages. Host Kaitlan Collins first asked Trump what he would say to voters who felt being found liable for sexually abusing a woman was disqualifying for a presidential candidates.
"Well, there aren’t too many of them," the GOP presidential front-runner fired back. "Because my poll numbers just came out [and] they went up."
"My poll numbers went up, and they went up with the other fake charge too," Trump added, nodding to charges he faces in New York for allegedly falsifying business records related to hush money payments to adult film star Stormy Daniels and another woman toward the end of his 2016 presidential campaign.
It's not clear what poll numbers Trump was referring to.
"Because what’s happening is they’re doing this for election interference. This woman I don’t know her," he said of Carroll. "I never met her. I have no idea who she is."
The audience laughed at Trump's characterizations of Carroll and applauded when he talked about his poll numbers.
On Tuesday, the New York jury found Trump liable for both sexual abuse and defamation stemming from Trump calling Carroll's claims a "hoax" and a "con job." The jury did not find him liable for her alleged rape.
Carroll sued in Manhattan federal court last year, saying Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store near his Fifth Avenue home in the mid-1990s. She first went public with the claim in 2019 in her book “What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.”
"I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back," Carroll said in a statement. "Today, the world finally knows the truth.”
Trump plans to appeal the verdict.
The former president has continued to insist he has no idea who Carroll is, even though the two had been photographed together decades ago. He also said Carroll was not his "type," though he mistook Carroll for his ex-wife Marla Maples in a photo that was presented to him during his deposition. He declined to testify in the case.
He did note Wednesday that the two appeared in a photo together.
"We had a horrible Clinton-appointed judge who was horrible," he said of Judge Lewis Kaplan. "He allowed her to put everything in. He allowed us to put nothing in."
He said his testimony wouldn't have made a difference because the trial was "a rigged deal." He also defended comments he made on the infamous "Access Hollywood" tape, which was entered as evidence into the case.
Some Republicans, including those who are not aligned with him, believed the verdict was actually helpful for Trump, further cementing his status as the frontrunner who is being unfairly targeted in an effort to get him out of the race.
GOP presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy, who is running as a Trump-aligned Republican, described the verdict as "just another part of the establishment’s anaphylactic response against its chief political allergen: Donald Trump."
Others, including several GOP senators who said they saw him as less electable afterwards, weren't so sure. GOP presidential contender Asa Hutchinson, the former governor of Arkansas, said the verdict "should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump."