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E. Jean Carroll testifies at defamation trial with Trump in courtroom

Washington, Jan 17 (Prensa Latina) With Donald Trump looking on and making comments to his lawyers, writer E. Jean Carroll testified Wednesday that the former president shattered her reputation and continues to inspire hatred against her from strangers because she claimed he sexually abused her decades ago.

Carroll, 80, was the first witness in a Manhattan federal court trial to determine damages, if any, that Trump owes her for remarks he made while he was president as he vehemently denied ever attacking her or knowing her.

A jury last year found that Trump sexually abused her in a mid-1990s encounter at a Manhattan department store, and defamed her in an October 2022 Truth Social post, resulting in a $5-million US judgment. Trump said he would attend and testify at that trial, but never did.

This trial is different in that concerns statements Trump made in 2019 while president — and it is occurring with the 77-year-old firmly re-established as the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination after winning the Iowa caucuses on Monday.

Because the first jury found that Trump sexually abused Carroll in the 1990s and then defamed her in 2022, the new trial concerns only how much more — if anything — he’ll be ordered to pay her for the 2019 remarks.

During Carroll’s testimony on Wednesday, Trump grimaced, shook his head and animatedly turned to speak to his lawyer, who lobbed multiple objections seeking to prevent the jury from hearing details of her sexual assault allegations.

“I’m here because Donald Trump assaulted me and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened. He lied and shattered my reputation,” she said.

At one point, Trump was threatened with expulsion from his Manhattan civil trial Wednesday after he repeatedly ignored a warning to keep quiet while Carroll testified

Carroll’s lawyer Shawn Crowley told Judge Lewis A. Kaplan that Trump could be heard “loudly saying things that are false” as he sat at the defence table, frequently tilting back in his chair and leaning over to converse with lawyers Alina Habba and Michael Madaio.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial,” Kaplan said in an exchange after the jury was excused for lunch. “I understand you’re probably eager for me to do that.”

“I would love it,” Trump shot back, shrugging as he sat between his lawyers at the defence table.

“I know you would like it. You just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently,” Kaplan responded.

“You can’t either,” Trump muttered.

Carroll said Trump’s public lies about her began in June 2019 and have continued without interruption.

“He lied last month. He lied on Sunday. He lied yesterday. And I am here to get my reputation back,” Carroll said.

She said she opened a social media website on Tuesday and saw a post that said: “Hey lady, you’re a fraud.”

Trump social media posts on Tuesday claimed the case was nothing but “fabricated lies and political shenanigans” that garnered his accuser money and fame.

“I am the only one injured by this attempted EXTORTION,” read a post on his Truth Social platform.

Carroll, an advice columnist and magazine writer, had levelled the sexual assault allegation in a New York Magazine article in 2019 ahead of a book release.

She has claimed Trump forced himself on her in a dressing room after a chance meeting at Bergdorf Goodman store in 1995 or 1996.

Carroll has maintained she lost millions of readers and her longtime post at Elle magazine — where her “Ask E. Jean” advice column ran for over a quarter-century — because of her allegations and Trump’s reaction to them.

Elle has said her contract wasn’t renewed for unrelated reasons.

Trump asserts that nothing ever happened between him and Carroll and that he never met her. He says a 1987 party photo of them and their then-spouses “doesn’t count” because it was a momentary greeting.

While the case is potentially damaging for Trump monetarily and for his reputation, neither it nor the four criminal indictments Trump faces have had much of an impact on grassroots Republican voters.

Some Republicans politicians, like Asa Hutchinson and Mo Brooks, said the 2023 verdict should make Trump unfit for office. Others ignored the verdict.

“I haven’t paid attention to his cases, and I’m not a lawyer. All I know is he’s innocent until proven guilty,” Republican candidate Nikki Haley said in a CNN interview on Tuesday.

The civil case jury, in fact, will determine liability, not guilt. Carroll is seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and millions more in punitive damages.

Carroll took the stand after a hostile encounter occurred between Habba and Kaplan over the judge’s refusal to adjourn the trial on Thursday so Trump can attend the funeral of his mother-in-law in Florida.

Habba called the judge’s ruling “insanely prejudicial,” and the judge soon afterward cut her off, saying he would “hear no further argument on it.”

Habba told the judge: “I will not be spoken to that way, Your Honour.”

When she mentioned the funeral again, the judge responded: “It’s denied. Sit down. Bring in the jury.”

Trump could be seen slamming his hand on the defence table and uttering the word, “man,” when Kaplan announced his decision.