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Donald Trump storms out of closing arguments in E Jean Carroll trial

The former president continued to attack the woman suing him for defamation after his testimony on Thursday

Alex Woodward,Ariana Baio
Friday 26 January 2024 15:25 GMT
Why is Donald Trump back in court against E. Jean Carroll?

Roughly 20 minutes after walking into the courtroom, Donald Trump stormed out of closing arguments in a civil trial to determine how much money he owes E Jean Carroll for repeatedly defaming her.

The former president returned to federal court in Manhattan on Friday morning after briefly testifying in his defence on Thursday afternoon. Meanwhile, on his Truth Social, he has continued to attack the former Elle magazine columnist with more potentially defamatory statements.

In her closing statement, Ms Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan told jurors that the former president “acts as if these rules of law just don’t apply to him”.

His attacks didn’t stop after he was found liable for defamation and sexual abuse in a $5m (£3.9m) jury verdict, she noted. “Not at all,” Ms Kaplan said. “Not even for 24 hours.”

Mr Trump then stood up from the defence table, where he was seated next to attorney Alina Habba, and walked out of the hearing, to which he had arrived late. “The record will reflect that Mr Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom,” US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said.

Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower on 26 January before heading to a federal court for closing arguments in a defamation trial that will determine how much he owes E Jean Carroll (AFP/Getty)

Mr Trump returned to the courtroom for defence closing arguments from Ms Habba. As he returned, his Truth Social account fired off several posts repeating incendiary and potentially defamatory comments about the case, claiming he is a victim of “extortion” and falsely labelling the case a “Joe Biden-directed Election Interference Attack” against him.

A New York City jury is set to determine monetary damages owed to Ms Carroll, whom Mr Trump repeatedly defamed by claiming he had never met her, labelling her a liar, and denying that he had sexually assaulted her in a New York City department store in the 1990s. After a jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation last year, Ms Carroll is seeking millions of dollars in compensatory damages and punitive damages for additional claims.

The facts in the case have already been established, and Mr Trump is barred from disputing that he sexually abused Ms Carroll, leaving the trial to focus exclusively on damages owed.

Ms Carroll’s legal team told the jury to consider at least $12m in compensatory damages, considering Mr Trump’s ongoing attempts to smear her and reject the central claims in the case.

Ms Habba argued to jurors that Ms Carroll was obligated to mitigate the amount of backlash she received from Mr Trump and had enjoyed positive attention following his statements against her.

Judge Kaplan noted to jurors that Ms Habba’s argument about Ms Carroll’s obligation to mitigate harm was incorrect, and that jurors need not consider the attention she received when determining damages. Jurors began deliberations on Friday afternoon.

Mr Trump, meanwhile, has used the trial to amplify his defamatory statements and as a stage for his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, which has relied on his multiple lawsuits and criminal indictments to cast him as the victim of a baseless conspiracy theory that the justice system is being weaponised against him.

Hours before his appearance in court on Friday, he posted a video of himself to his Truth Social account in which he accused Ms Carroll of lying and being a paid political operative.

“I have no idea who she is, where she’s come from,” he said. “This is another scam and a political witch hunt, and somehow we’re going to have to fight this stuff. We cannot let our country go into this abyss. This is disgraceful.”

During an appearance at a civil fraud trial targeting his Trump Organization last year, Mr Trump abruptly left the courtroom after the judge overseeing the case denied another of his attorneys’ multiple requests to drop the case altogether.

At that moment, the former president tossed up his hands in frustration and abruptly left the court, mumbling: “Unbelievable.”

Ariana Baio contributed reporting from the Daniel Patrick Moynihan federal courthouse

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