Donald Trump storms out of court during closing arguments in damages trial

Donald Trump stormed out of a courtroom on Friday as closing arguments began in a damages trial in New York.

A jury found Trump liable last year of sexually abusing E Jean Carroll in a New York department store in the 1990s and defaming her after she wrote about the incident.

The current trial focuses only on what damages the former US president will have to pay for defaming Ms Carroll, 80.

Trump left as Ms Carroll's lawyer Roberta Kaplan told jurors they should punish him for persistently lying about her client and destroying her reputation as a responsible journalist.

"We all have to follow the law," Ms Kaplan said. "Donald Trump, however, acts as if these rules and laws just don't apply to him."

District Judge Lewis Kaplan, not related to Ms Carroll's lawyer, said after Trump walked out: "The record will reflect that Mr Trump just rose and walked out of the courtroom."

The former US president later returned to the courtroom when his lawyer Alina Habba began her closing argument.

The judge objected to Ms Habba twice in the early stages of her closing argument - first after she denied the sexual assault took place, and then when she claimed Ms Carroll's account had "more holes than Swiss cheese".

Ms Carroll is seeking at least $10m (£7.9m) in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

She is seeking the damages over Trump's 2019 denials, when he was president, that he raped her in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.

Trump, 77, accused Ms Carroll of making up the encounter to boost sales of her memoir.

But a jury ordered Trump to pay Ms Carroll $5m (£3.95m) in May 2023 over a similar denial he made in October 2022, finding that the former US leader had sexually abused her and later defamed her.

Because that verdict is binding for the current trial, this jury only needs to decide how much Trump owes Ms Carroll for harming her reputation, and whether to impose punitive damages to keep him from defaming her again.

Trump has continued attacking Ms Carroll during the trial, proclaiming that her case was a "witch hunt" and a "con job" and maintaining that he had not known her in the mid-1990s.

"This trial is about getting him to stop, once and for all," Ms Carroll's lawyer said on Friday.

Trump, who is the clear favourite to be the Republican candidate in the US election later this year, has attended the entire trial except for opening statements, which he skipped for a presidential campaign event.

He is seeking to retake the White House in the November election in a likely showdown against Democrat Joe Biden, who beat him in 2020.

On Thursday, Trump spent only three minutes defending himself on the witness stand after Judge Kaplan forbade him and his lawyers from revisiting issues that the first trial had settled.

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Trump was allowed to stand by testimony he gave in October 2022, in which he called Ms Carroll's claims a "hoax" and said she was "mentally sick."

Jurors had earlier been shown video excerpts of the testimony.

Ms Carroll wrote the "Ask E. Jean" column for Elle from 1993 to 2019, and often appeared on such programs as NBC's Today and ABC's Good Morning America.

She said those appearances dried up after Trump called her a liar, and that his denials led her to be bombarded with online death threats and other attacks that have yet to stop.

Lawyers for Trump have said it was Ms Carroll's accusations and not Trump's denials that prompted the attacks, saying the attacks began even before the former president said anything.

The 2024 presidential race is expected to be close even though Trump faces 91 felony counts in four separate criminal indictments, including two cases accusing him of trying to illegally overturn his 2020 election loss.

Trump has tried to make his legal travails a campaign asset, claiming he is a victim of biased prosecutors, plaintiffs like Ms Carroll, and an unfair judicial system.