NEW YORK (Live24) — With former President Donald Trump no longer in the courtroom Thursday, a columnist who accused him of sexually attacking her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s faced cross examination that aimed to diminish her credibility.
A Trump attorney tried to show the jury that E. Jean Carroll has achieved the fame, if not the fortune, she desired after linking herself to Trump in a memoir describing the incident she alleges.
Carroll responded: “No, my status was lowered. I’m partaking in this trial to bring my own reputation and status back.”
Carroll’s testimony came in Manhattan federal court where Trump was scolded a day earlier by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan after a lawyer for Carroll complained that he was grumbling about the case loudly enough that jurors could hear him.
The judge told the Republican front-runner for the presidency that he might have to consider ejecting him from the trial if he continued making comments loudly enough for jurors to hear. Carroll’s lawyer claimed he made remarks including “it is a witch hunt” and “it really is a con job.”
Trump, who had attended the first two days of the trial, went to Florida to attend the funeral of his mother-in-law.
On Thursday, Trump attorney Alina Habba confronted Carroll with a series of mean tweets that Trump supporters sent her after reading excerpts of her memoir in a magazine article in June 2019 in which she revealed her claims that Trump raped her.
Habba was trying to show jurors that social media posts that Carroll blamed on statements by Trump were being sent before his statements were released.
“They follow Donald Trump They want to emulate him,” Habba said. “They’re standing up for the man they admire.”
At one point, the judge shut down the line of questioning, saying it was “simply repetitious.”
The trial that began this week pertains only to what, if anything, a jury finds Trump owes Carroll for statements he made as president in June 2019 after excerpts of Carroll’s memoir which described her claims against Trump were published in a magazine.
Carroll has testified that her life changed dramatically after Trump branded her a liar, claimed he never met her and asserted that she made her claims against him to promote her book and damage him politically. She said she lives in fear, sleeps with a loaded gun beside her and wishes she could boost her security but doesn’t have enough money.
Last May, a jury in the same courtroom awarded Carroll $5 million in damages after concluding Trump sexually abused her in a Bergdorf Goodman store across the street from Trump Tower in spring 1996 and then defamed her with statements in October 2022.
In that verdict, jurors rejected Carroll’s claim that she was raped, finding Trump responsible for a lesser degree of sexual abuse. The judge said the jury’s decision was based on “the narrow, technical meaning” of rape in New York penal law and that, in his analysis, the verdict did not mean that Carroll “failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”
Trump did not attend that trial and has said recently on the campaign trail that he was advised by his attorney to stay away.
Trump has been animated during his two days in the courtroom this week, shaking his head at testimony he disagreed with, passing notes to his lawyers and speaking to them while jurors were in the room.
During his confrontation with the judge on Wednesday, Trump responded to the threat to eject him from the courtroom with: “I would love it.”
That prompted the judge to say: ““I know you would. You just can’t control yourself in these circumstances, apparently.”
After he left the courthouse Wednesday, Trump told reporters that Kaplan, a Bill Clinton appointee, was “a nasty judge” and a “Trump-hating guy” who was “obviously not impartial.”
Sometime next week, the jury will be asked to determine damages. Carroll is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and substantially more in punitive damages.
Habba said in an opening statement that Carroll should not receive more money, particularly since the death threats and comments she receives on social media are not unusual for public figures with a strong social media presence.
“Regardless of a few mean tweets, Ms. Carroll is now more famous than she has ever been in her life, and loved and respected by many, which was her goal,” Habba told jurors.