Trump Faces Trial as Jury Determines Financial Consequences for Defamatory Comments

New York City, NY – Former President Donald Trump appeared in court for the start of a trial on Tuesday, facing a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll. Trump was absent from the previous trial in May, where he was found liable for sexually abusing Carroll and ordered to pay $5 million in damages. The current trial will solely focus on the amount of money Trump must pay Carroll for his comments about her during his presidency in 2019.

Before jury selection began, it was established that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll, a statement that prompted Trump to shake his head in denial. Sitting at the defense table, Trump sat silently alongside his legal team while Carroll and her representatives took their places. The defense requested a suspension of the trial on Thursday to allow Trump to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral, but the judge denied the request.

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, informed the judge that Trump planned to testify. The judge agreed to accommodate Trump by scheduling his testimony for Monday, even if the trial concludes before Thursday. Trump’s lawyers criticized the judge for pretrial evidence rulings that they believed favored Carroll, accusing the judge of hindering their defense.

As potential jurors entered the courtroom, Trump closely observed their responses to the judge’s questions. A few prospective jurors expressed agreement with Trump’s false claims about the 2020 election being rigged, while others believed he was being treated unfairly by the court system. The jury selection process provided insight into the political beliefs of a diverse group of New Yorkers, who had personal connections to Trump or his opponents.

To ensure the jurors’ safety, their identities will remain anonymous throughout the trial. They will be transported to and from the courthouse from an undisclosed location. Trump has used his legal battles as part of his campaign rhetoric, portraying himself as a victim of partisan lawyers, judges, and prosecutors. Last week, he attended closing arguments in a fraud lawsuit filed by the New York attorney general against him and delivered a diatribe to reporters afterwards.

Trump took to social media to express his thoughts on the defamation case, using his Truth Social platform to label Carroll’s rape allegation as “attempted extortion” and “fabricated lies and political shenanigans.” He also accused the judge of harboring “absolute hatred” towards him. Carroll, who is now 80 years old, plans to testify about the harm caused to her career and reputation by Trump’s public statements. She seeks $10 million in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages.

If Trump does testify, he will face limitations on his statements. The judge previously ruled that Trump cannot deny sexually abusing or defaming Carroll, given the previous verdict. In the first trial, a different jury awarded Carroll $5 million after concluding that Trump had sexually abused her but failed to prove rape. Trump is appealing the decision and has not yet paid the damages.

Despite claims from Trump’s lawyer about unfair rulings and pending appeals, the trial proceeded as planned. Trump, consistent with his previous stance, continues to deny knowing Carroll or meeting her in 1996. He alleges that Carroll fabricated her claims to sell her book and for political reasons. The focus of the current trial will be solely on the amount of compensation Trump owes for his comments about Carroll while he was president.