A New York civil jury this Friday sentenced Donald Trump to pay $83.3 million in damages for repeatedly defaming columnist E. Jean Carroll. The former president, who was already convicted last May for having sexually abused the victim almost three decades ago, denied the facts after she publicly denounced him and encouraged the lynching of her followers through social networks.
Carroll sued the mogul in 2019 for defamation, alleging that Trump had ruined her reputation as a journalist with his comments. Finally, the jury, made up of nine anonymous citizens from the Southern District of New York, has estimated the damages at an amount eight times higher than the 10 million dollars requested by her lawyer, ensuring that Trump acted maliciously in his repeated attacks on the columnist. . In this way, to the 18.3 million to be paid in compensation to Carroll, another 65 million in punitive damages have been added to the sentence.
The former president, who left the room before hearing the verdict, denounced a “witch hunt orchestrated by (President Joe) Biden” in a publication on his social network, Truth Social. His defense has already announced that he will appeal the sentence, which he considers “absolutely ridiculous.” For his part, Carroll called the verdict “a great victory for all women who stand up when they have been knocked down and a huge defeat for all bullies who have tried to knock a woman down.”
Trump raped Carroll in the changing room of a luxury Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s – for which he was already sentenced to pay 5 million for “sexual abuse” – and she publicly denounced him in an article published in 2019 in Magazine New York. Five months later, Trump not only denied the rape, but also claimed to have never known her and began a smear campaign against his victim, accusing her of being a liar and assuring that he could never have raped her because, as he mockingly alleged, “he didn’t “He’s my type.”
Trump’s followers, encouraged by these and other statements by the then president, issued a series of insults and death threats against Carroll in the form of messages, emails and comments on their social networks. The journalist then decided to sue the New York mogul for defamation, alleging that the lynching initiated by him and amplified by his loyal fan base had destroyed his reputation as a reliable source in the media.
But the lawsuit, filed in 2019, was stalled in court: then-Attorney General Bill Barr, appointed by Trump, blocked it, arguing that the magnate had made those comments in his capacity as president. Three years later, in 2022, Carroll sued Trump again, this time for two civil crimes: sexual assault and defamation. With the former president now out of the White House, the trial finally began last year. In May, a jury found him guilty and ordered him to pay $5 million to Carroll.
Three months later, the Biden Administration’s Justice Department lifted the judicial block on the first lawsuit, from 2019, concluding that Attorney General Barr’s protection lacked “the evidence necessary to conclude that Donald Trump was acting within the scope of his office” of president when he denied sexually assaulting Carroll.
The case reached the table of Manhattan District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who ruled that the previous sentence already established defamation, so the only thing that the popular jury had to decide was the amount to pay to the affected person as damages. The prosecution requested ten million dollars, a figure that has finally been multiplied by eight with this Friday’s sentence: 83.3 million.
Such a high amount is due to the fact that the jury has considered that Trump acted with intent, gratuitously and maliciously, by repeating the attacks on Carroll. In this way, to the 18.3 million to be paid in compensation – 11 million to finance a campaign to repair his reputation and 7.3 million for the emotional damage caused – 65 million in punitive damages are added.
Judge Kaplan has lifted the gag order on jurors, who can now speak publicly about their participation in the case. However, he has advised them against doing so, given the climate of political tension, since the attacks of Trump’s followers could now be directed against them: “My advice is that they never reveal that they were on this jury and I will not say anything more to the jury.” respect,” he said, as quoted by Washington Post (The trial was not broadcast, although journalists were able to enter the room).
The reaction of Trump and his defense, which assures that the judicial process has been the product of a “witch hunt led by Biden”, is aligned with the victimhood that he uses in all the trials against him. In addition to the conviction in the civil case for fraud in New York, and the other conviction for the previous civil case for sexual abuse and defamation, this is added to the 91 counts charged in four different criminal proceedings in Washington, New York, Georgia and Florida.
“We are seeing a violation of our judicial system,” said lawyer Alina Habba as she left the court, who has assured that she has not been allowed to carry out a fair defense of the former president. “They denied me two experts,” he denounced, “they did not let me put on the table that (businessman and co-founder of Linkedin) Reid Hoffman financed Kaplan,” he said, referring to Roberta Kaplan, one of Carroll’s lawyers. who shares a last name with the judge.
“We are going to appeal immediately, we are going to end this ridiculous story,” Habba announced: “I will continue to stand with President Trump to fight for freedom of expression, a right for everyone, recognized in the First Amendment. For everyone’s right to defend ourselves when we are falsely accused.
After Trump’s first indictment in March of last year – the first time a president or former president has been indicted on criminal charges in US history – he saw an electoral opportunity in victimhood and began asking for financial support from his followers to pay for his defense.
Since then, he has not only benefited financially, he has also multiplied his support, both inside and outside the Republican Party. Before the first accusation, he had 46% of the voting intention in the primaries; yesterday, it was already at 70.7%, according to the FiveThirtyEight model. After his victories in the caucus of Iowa and the New Hampshire primaries, it remains to be seen what impact this new conviction may have on his campaign.
The 83.3 million that he must pay represent 2.68% of his fortune, according to data from the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, which estimates his net worth at $3.1 billion. This, without counting the money from the Trump Organization, nor that raised by his campaign, which is being used, in part, to finance his judicial defenses. His team estimates the money collected in the first quarter of last year at 10 million dollars (before the first accusation), at 35 million in the second, and at 45.5 million in the last quarter.