Donald Trump’s testimony in the defamation case of writer E. Jean Carroll ended almost immediately after it began, with the former US president sticking to his earlier testimony that Carroll’s assertion that that he had raped her was a hoax.
“100 percent yes,” Trump told his lawyer, Alina Habba, in Manhattan federal court on Thursday when asked if his comments in a deposition from October 2022 in Carroll’s case were accurate.
Earlier Thursday, Carroll’s lawyers played video clips of the deposition, in which Trump called Carroll “mentally ill” and a “moron,” and threatened to sue her.
“This is a false accusation, it has never happened and it will never happen,” Trump said in his deposition.
Carroll, 80, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, is seeking at least US$10 million after Trump denied in June 2019 that he raped her in the mid-1990s in a dressing room at a Bergdorf department store Goodman in Manhattan.
Last May, another jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million after denying his rape complaint in October 2022.
Trump, 77, spent just four minutes on the witness stand after U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw both trials, said he would not allow “recasts by disappointed litigants” and would let Trump reverse the findings of the first jury.
Carroll’s case and trial have become part of Trump’s campaign to retake the White House in the November election.
The Republican front-runner has shuttled between the courtroom and campaign stops while criticizing Carroll, the judge and the legal process online and in news conferences.
The judge deleted some comments
Kaplan expunged much of what Trump said on the witness stand from the record, meaning the jury cannot consider it during deliberations.
Trump testified “yes, I did” when his lawyer, Habba, asked him if he had publicly denied Carroll’s rape allegation in his defense, and “no” when Habba asked him if he had intended to harm Carroll.
He then said he “wanted to defend myself, my family and frankly the presidency,” but Kaplan asked jurors to disregard that comment.
The judge, known for maintaining tight control in his courtroom, limited Trump’s testimony after hearing Trump discuss Carroll outside the presence of the jury.
The trial lasted four days and closing arguments are expected Friday.
Jurors will only consider how much money Trump should pay Carroll, if any, for damaging her reputation, and whether he owes additional sums as punishment and to prevent him from defaming her again.
A damages expert testified on Carroll’s behalf last week that reputational damage from Trump’s comments in 2019 could reach $12.1 million. Trump’s legal team has said damages are expected to be minimal, if any.
Trump’s legal team said Carroll’s damages should be minimal, if any, and that Carroll had sought and enjoyed the adulation he had received.
They also said it was the publication of excerpts from Carroll’s book in New York magazine, not Trump’s comments, that led people to call Carroll a liar.
Earlier Thursday, Carroll’s lawyers finished presenting their case, with former Elle editor-in-chief Robbie Myers testifying that she considered Carroll a “truth teller” whose empathy and sense of humor made her “so important” to the Elle brand. .