Former US President Donald Trump attended a New York courtroom session, after a landslide campaign victory in Iowa, to defend himself against the latest defamation lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexual violence.
In her opening statements on Tuesday, Carroll’s lawyer, Shawn Crowley told a panel of jurors at the Manhattan Federal Court that Trump has publicly smeared her client ever since she went public in 2019 to accuse him of raping her in 1996 at a department store dressing room in Manhattan.
Trump’s incendiary remarks have not stopped “to this day, literally, to this day,” said Crowley, as the tirade comes back to bite the former president.
“He used the world’s biggest microphone to attack Carroll, to humiliate her, and to destroy her reputation,” she added.
The lawyer argued that Trump launched verbal attacks over four days in June 2019, accusing Carroll of being a liar.
He said this from the White House (…) where presidents signed laws, declared wars, and decided the fate of the nation, she said.
“As he’s campaigning for president of the United States, Donald Trump continues to lie about Carroll.”
Donald Trump, 77, shook his head in disgust as the judge in his New York defamation trial told prospective jurors that another jury had already decided that the former president sexually abused a female columnist.
Trump left the courtroom before the opening statements were made, just after a nine-person jury was selected, to attend a political rally in New Hampshire and accused the judge of being biased towards him.
“I should be in New Hampshire, campaigning and fighting for our Country, and I will be later today, but for now I had to spend time in a Federal Courthouse with a Trump-Hating, Radical Left Judge,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social platform after the court adjourned for the day.
Carroll, 80, is seeking at least $10 million in damages in a civil case that will put the allegations of sexual assault back in the headlines, as Trump pursues the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Meanwhile, the lawyer representing Trump, Alina Habba in her counterargument said that Carroll was “basking in the limelight” in the years since she released her memoir and accused Trump of rape.
“She is looking for you to give her a windfall because some people on social media said mean things about her,” Habba said.
On Tuesday, Trump made a series of social media posts about the defamation case, posting on his Truth Social platform; he wrote that Carroll’s rape allegation was an “extortion attempt” involving “fabricated lies and political shenanigans”.
The jurors will not decide whether the alleged attack took place or whether Trump is lying, but will only reach a conclusion on how much money Trump owes Carroll in damages.
The US District Judge Lewis Kaplan has prohibited Trump from presenting arguments that he did not defame or sexually assault Carroll, or that she fabricated her account.
After the court session concluded, Trump alleged that Kaplan displayed political bias against him, echoing his previous grievances towards judges presiding over his other legal matters.
Later, when the judge asked during jury selection if anyone felt they had been treated unfairly by the justice system, Trump slyly raised his hand, which drew laughter from some potential jurors and a comment from the judge, who told Trump: “We know what your position is.”
The Republican contestant won a landslide victory in the Iowa caucuses on Tuesday, cementing his place as the clear front-runner for this year’s Republican presidential nomination.
Accused of 91 criminal charges, Trump has repeatedly claimed that the cases against him are politically motivated.
He cast himself, without evidence, as a victim of “election interference.”