Former President Donald Trump briefly testified in a defamation trial this week, defending his statements about E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexual assault said to have taken place decades ago.
In a recent turn of events in New York City, Trump took the stand in a defamation trial, albeit for a brief three minutes.
The focus of his testimony was to affirm his previous deposition, where he vehemently denied the allegations made Carroll, a writer, who had accused Trump of raping her about thirty years ago. Trump's firm stance was evident as he stated, "100% yes," when asked if he stood by his prior deposition, as the Washington Examiner reported.
Before Trump's testimony, Judge Lewis Kaplan set clear boundaries.
He specified that Trump could only discuss his deposition and his mindset when he publicly refuted Carroll's allegations. A significant reminder came from Kaplan to Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, about the previous trial outcome with regard to Carroll's claims.
In that trial, Trump was found liable for sexual abuse and defamation against Carroll, limiting his ability to deny those accusations during this week's testimony.
Trump's time on the stand was not just about the testimony. He made a poignant remark as he left the courtroom, expressing his dismay with the situation by stating:
It’s not America. This is not America.
This comment reflects Trump's sentiment about the legal proceedings and perhaps the broader state of affairs he perceives.
The backdrop to Trump's testimony was that of a mixed verdict from a previous jury.
Jurors concluded that Trump did sexually assault and defame Carroll, resulting in a $5 million damage award. However, they did not find sufficient evidence to support Carroll's rape allegation.
The current trial seeks to address damages related to additional remarks made by Trump about Carroll during his presidency, which Judge Kaplan found defamatory.
Carroll's allegations first surfaced in a 2019 memoir, in which she accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store three decades prior.
Trump's response was swift and dismissive, accusing Carroll of concocting the story to boost her book sales. He famously remarked:
She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section.
Trump has consistently denied Carroll's claims, even stating that she was not his "type" and asserting that the incident never occurred.
Carroll, on the other hand, maintained that Trump knew her and that they both were part of the same prominent New York City media circles. She supported her claim with a 1987 photo showing them socializing at a party.
Carroll's silence about the alleged incident lasted nearly 30 years, broken only by confiding in two friends shortly after it happened.
Inspired by the #MeToo movement in 2017, Carroll decided to come forward with her story through her memoir. Her decision to file a lawsuit against Trump for rape and defamation was reportedly influenced by a gathering at liberal writer Molly Jong-Fast’s house, where lawyer and Trump critic George Conway encouraged her to take legal action.
Despite the legal repercussions, Trump has not shied away from expressing his views about Carroll.
He recently went on a tirade against her on social media, sharing past quotes from Carroll and highlighting her apparent satisfaction with the newfound fame from the lawsuit. Trump's posts vehemently deny the incident, urging an end to what he calls a "Witch Hunt."
Carroll's pursuit of the case continues, with the lawsuit's specifics being scrutinized and debated.
She has pinpointed the incident to late 1995 or early 1996 but admits to not remembering the exact date. This legal battle, set against the backdrop of the #MeToo movement and a polarized political climate, continues to unfold, capturing the nation's attention.