Donald Trump lashes out at ‘absolutely ridiculous’ $83,000,000 defamation ruling

Carroll, 80, sued Trump in November 2019 over his denials five months earlier that he had raped her in the mid-1990s(Picture: AP)

Donald Trump has been ordered to pay $83.3 million (£65 million) in damages to writer E Jean Carroll, who accused him of destroying her reputation by calling her a liar after she accused him of rape.

The former president was not in court for the ruling, having stormed out and been whisked away.

Ms Carroll smiled as the verdict was read. The payout far exceeded the minimum $10 million that she had been seeking.

The seven-man, two-woman jury needed less than three hours to reach the verdict.

The jury also awarded her $18.3 million in compensatory damages and $65 million in punitive damages.

Carroll, 80, sued Trump in November 2019 over his denials five months earlier that he had raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.

Trump, 77, claimed that he had never heard of Carroll, and that she made up her story to boost sales of her memoir.

In a statement shortly after the judgement, he said: ‘Absolutely ridiculous!

‘Our legal system is out of control, and being used as a political weapon.’

Mr Trump walks out during attorney Roberta Kaplan’s closing argument (Picture: Reuters)

E Jean Carroll sits in a car as she leaves the Manhattan Federal Court (Picture: Reuters)

His lawyers said Carroll was hungry for fame and enjoyed the attention from supporters for speaking out against her nemesis.

Another jury last May ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million over a similar October 2022 denial, finding that he had defamed and sexually abused Carroll.

Trump is appealing that decision.

It was the second time in nine months that a jury returned a verdict related to Ms Carroll’s claim that a flirtatious, chance encounter with Mr Trump in 1996 at a Bergdorf Goodman store ended violently.

She said Mr Trump slammed her against a dressing room wall and forced himself on her.

In May, a different jury awarded Carroll 5.0 million US dollars (£3.93 million).

It found Mr Trump not liable for rape, but responsible for sexually abusing Ms Carroll and then defaming her by claiming she made it up.

He is appealing that award.

Mr Trump skipped the first trial. He later expressed regret for not attending and insisted on testifying in the second trial, though the judge limited what he could say, ruling he had missed his chance to argue that he was innocent.

He spent only a few minutes on the witness stand on Thursday, during which he denied attacking Ms Carroll, then left court grumbling: ‘This is not America.’

Former US President Donald Trump speaks to his supporters (Picture: Reuters)

This new jury was only asked how much Mr Trump should pay Ms Carroll for two statements he made as president when he answered reporters’ questions after excerpts of her memoir were published in a magazine – damages that could not be decided earlier because of legal appeals.

Jurors were not asked to re-decide the issue of whether the sex attack actually happened.

Ms Carroll’s attorneys had requested 24 million dollars (£18.8million) in compensatory damages and ‘an unusually high punitive award’.

Her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, urged jurors in her closing argument on Friday to punish Mr Trump enough that he would stop a steady stream of public statements smearing Ms Carroll as a liar and a ‘whack job’.

Mr Trump shook his head vigorously as Ms Kaplan spoke, then suddenly stood and walked out, taking Secret Service agents with him.

His exit came only minutes after the judge, without the jury present, threatened to send Mr Trump’s attorney Alina Habba to jail for continuing to talk when he told her she was finished.

‘You are on the verge of spending some time in the lock-up. Now sit down,’ the judge told Ms Habba, who immediately complied.

The trial reached its conclusion as Mr Trump marches toward winning the Republican presidential nomination a third consecutive time.

He has sought to turn his various trials and legal vulnerabilities into an advantage, portraying them as evidence of a weaponised political system.

Though there’s no evidence that President Joe Biden or anyone in the White House has influenced any of the legal cases against him, Mr Trump’s line of argument has resonated with his most loyal supporters who view the proceedings with scepticism.

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Ms Habba, told jurors that Ms Carroll had been enriched by her accusations against him (Picture: AP)

Ms Carroll testified early in the trial that Mr Trump’s public statements had led to death threats.

‘He shattered my reputation,’ she said. ‘I am here to get my reputation back and to stop him from telling lies about me.’

She said she had had an electronic fence installed around the cabin in upstate New York where she lives, warned neighbours of the threats and bought bullets for a gun she keeps by her bed.

‘Previously, I was known as simply as a journalist and had a column, and now I’m known as the liar, the fraud, and the whack job,’ Ms Carroll testified.

Mr Trump’s lawyer, Ms Habba, told jurors that Ms Carroll had been enriched by her accusations against him and achieved fame she had craved. She said no damages were warranted.

When Mr Trump finally testified, Judge Kaplan gave him little room to manoeuvre, because Mr Trump could not be permitted to try to revive issues settled in the first trial.

‘It is a very well-established legal principle in this country that prevents do-overs by disappointed litigants,’ Judge Kaplan said.

‘He lost it and he is bound. And the jury will be instructed that, regardless of what he says in court here today, he did it, as far as they’re concerned. That is the law,’ Judge Kaplan said shortly before Mr Trump testified.

After he swore to tell the truth, Mr Trump was asked if he stood by a deposition in which he called Ms Carroll a ‘liar’ and a ‘whack job’. He answered: ‘100%. Yes.’

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Asked if he denied the allegation because Ms Carroll made an accusation, he responded: ‘That’s exactly right. She said something, I consider it a false accusation.’

Asked if he ever instructed anyone to hurt Ms Carroll, he said: ‘No. I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.’

The judge ordered the jury to disregard the ‘false accusation’ comment and everything Mr Trump said after ‘No’ to the last question.

Earlier in the trial, Mr Trump tested the judge’s tolerance.

When he complained to his lawyers about a ‘witch hunt’ and a ‘con job’ within earshot of jurors, Judge Kaplan threatened to eject him from the courtroom if it happened again.

‘I would love it,’ Mr Trump said. Later that day, Mr Trump told a news conference that Judge Kaplan was a ‘nasty judge’.

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