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Trump legal news brief: Jury orders Trump to pay E. Jean Carroll $83.3 million in damages

Yahoo News' succinct daily update on the criminal and civil cases against the 45th president of the United States.

E. Jean Carroll arrives at court.
E. Jean Carroll arrives at Manhattan federal court on Thursday. (Siegfried Nacion/Star Max/IPx via AP)

Less than three hours after beginning deliberation, the jury in the second defamation case brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald Trump issues a verdict ordering him to pay her $83.3 million in damages for his defamatory statements regarding his sexual assault of Carroll in 1996. During closing arguments Carroll’s lawyers ask the jury to award her at least $24 million in damages for repeatedly defaming her account of his sexual assault of her in a department store changing room. Trump lawyer Alina Habba counters that her client should not be held liable for threats made against Carroll by his supporters. Here are the latest details in the legal battles involving the former president who hopes to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Jury orders Trump to pay $83.3 million in damages to E. Jean Carroll

Key players: Columnist E. Jean Carroll, Carroll lawyers Roberta Kaplan and Shawn Crowley, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, Judge Lewis Kaplan

  • A New York jury issued a verdict Friday afternoon that Trump must pay Carroll $83.3 million for defamatory statements he made in which he denied sexually abusing her in a department store changing room in 1996, Politico reported.

  • Carroll’s lawyers had asked the jury to award her at least $24 million in compensatory and punitive damages, but the jury went far beyond that amount.

  • In a unanimous verdict, the jury found that Trump owed Carroll $7.3 million in compensatory damages, $11 million in order to repair her reputation and $65 million in punitive damages.

  • Last May, a jury found that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll in 1996 and had later defamed her in 2022 by denying her account of the incident and asserting Carroll had made the story up to sell books. That jury also awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.

  • This trial centered around a statement Trump made in 2019 in which he asserted Carroll had made up the story of the assault in order to sell books. But Trump’s frequent attacks on Carroll also helped contribute to the staggering figure the jury reached on punitive damages.

  • Kaplan ordered that the identity of the jurors be kept secret throughout the trial, and he issued a word of warning to the jurors after the verdict was read.

  • “My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury,” he said.

  • On social media, Trump said he would appeal the decision. “THIS IS NOT AMERICA!” he wrote of the verdict.

Why it matters: Two separate juries have now awarded Carroll more than $88 million in damages. Carroll’s lawyers had argued that only a significant sum would compel Trump to stop his attacks on Carroll. It remains to be seen whether that will happen.

Carroll’s lawyer asks jury for at least $24 million in damages from Trump

Key players: Columnist E. Jean Carroll, Carroll lawyers Roberta Kaplan and Shawn Crowley, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, Judge Lewis Kaplan

  • In closing arguments Friday, Carroll’s lawyers told the jury that Trump should be forced to pay their client at least $24 million in compensatory damages in addition to the $10 million they are seeking in punitive damages for his repeated defamation, the Associated Press reported.

  • Though a jury ruled in May that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll in a department store changing room in 1996 and ordered him to pay her $5 million for defaming her by denying her account of the incident in a memoir published in 2019, Trump has continued to portray her as a liar.

  • As those comments continued, Carroll sued Trump a second time, seeking $10 million in compensatory damages. On Friday, Roberta Kaplan cited a new total amount, saying Trump should be on the hook for at least $12 million in compensatory damages, intended to compensate for losses, and another $12 million for punitive damages, which are awarded to punish a defendant.

  • "We’re all human beings, and we’re all capable of understanding the pain and suffering Ms. Carroll has experienced,” Kaplan told the jury. “In our view, the damage to Ms. Carroll’s sense of self — to her peace of mind — the feeling that we all have that we can go about our lives every day and not be suddenly attacked or raped or killed is very significant, so the dollar number to compensate for that has to be very large."

  • Throughout the trial, which will decide the amount of damages, if any, Trump must pay Carroll, her lawyers have argued that the jury must decide on a figure high enough that will keep Trump from defaming her yet again.

  • “The one thing Donald Trump cares about is money,” Kaplan said on Friday.

  • During Kaplan’s closing, Trump angrily stormed out of the courtroom but returned to sit at the defense table to hear Habba deliver hers.

  • Habba took issue with the idea that Trump’s attacks on Carroll had resulted directly in death threats from his supporters on social media, and portrayed her as hungry for fame.

  • “We have watched six days of a plaintiff trying to pin Twitter trolls’ comments on a former president of the United States without accepting any responsibility for the media and the press frenzy and the public profile that she wanted and she still enjoys," Habba told the jury.

  • Carroll testified about the threats she had received since coming forward with her story of being assaulted by Trump, saying that the number of threats exploded when Trump denied her account in a 2019 statement made when he was president.

  • In her closing, Habba said Trump could not be held liable for threats made against Carroll by others. "President Trump should not have to pay for their threats. He does not condone them. He did not direct them. All he did was tell his truth," she said.

  • In a rebuttal, Crowley told the jury that Trump "lied and defamed [Carroll] over and over again, and that has been proven; he did those things and yet his attorney says it is her fault."

Why it matters: Judge Kaplan has already instructed the jury that Trump was found to have sexually assaulted Carroll, and he reiterated that point in a contentious back-and-forth with Habba on Friday, saying, "The fact that Mr. Trump sexually assaulted Ms. Carroll is established." Because of those instructions, the jury’s job will be to decide what further amount, if any, Trump owes Carroll.

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Thursday, January 25

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Former President Donald Trump takes the witness stand in the second civil defamation trial brought against him by columnist E. Jean Carroll. His lawyers join a motion by a co-defendant in the Georgia election interference case to disqualify Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis because of allegations of an improper relationship with the lead prosecutor in the case. U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, meanwhile, sentences Peter Navarro, a former trade adviser in Trump’s administration, to a four-month prison sentence for his defiance of a congressional subpoena issued by the House Jan. 6 select committee. Here are the latest legal developments surrounding the former president running for reelection in 2024.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Trump briefly takes witness stand at civil defamation trial

Key players: Trump lawyer Alina Habba, columnist E. Jean Carroll, Judge Lewis Kaplan, Carroll lawyer Roberta Kaplan

  • Trump took the witness stand Thursday as the final witness for the defense in his second civil defamation trial brought by Carroll, NBC News reported.

  • Asked by Habba if he stood by the answers he gave during a deposition in the case that he never met or assaulted Carroll, Trump responded, “100% yes.”

  • Habba then asked him if he had ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll.

  • “No. I just wanted to defend myself, my family and frankly the presidency,” Trump responded.

  • Under cross-examination, Kaplan asked Trump whether he was aware that another trial had already been decided by a jury in Carroll’s favor.

  • “Yes,” Trump responded.

  • Kaplan followed up by asking whether the second Carroll civil trial was the first he had attended.

  • “Yes,” Trump again replied, and Kaplan said she had no further questions.

  • The trial will decide the damages, if any, Trump must pay to Carroll for defaming her by denying her account of being sexually assaulted by him in a department store changing room in 1996.

  • In May, a jury found that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll in 1996 and defamed her in 2022 and ordered him to pay her $5 million.

  • The second case concerns comments Trump made in 2019 while president in which he denied ever having met or assaulting Carroll and accused her of making up the story to “sell a new book.”

  • Prior to taking the stand Thursday, Kaplan sought assurances from Habba that Trump wouldn’t veer off topic.

  • But Trump, who was sitting at the defense table, interrupted that conversation. “I don’t know who the woman is. I never met this woman,” he said.

  • Kaplan then rebuked him: “I’m sorry, Mr. Trump, you’re interrupting these proceedings by talking loudly while your attorney is talking and that is not permitted.”

  • As Trump left the courtroom, he was heard complaining, “This is not America. Not America. This is not America.”

  • Closing arguments in the case will take place on Friday morning.

Why it matters: Trump is being sued by Carroll for $10 million in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount, potentially many millions more, in punitive damages. Kaplan has instructed the jury that Trump has already been found to have sexually assaulted Carroll.

Georgia election interference

Trump joins motion seeking to disqualify Willis and have Georgia charges dismissed

Key players: Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, prosecutor Nathan Wade, Trump co-defendant Mike Roman, Judge Scott McAfee

  • Citing the alleged improper relationship between Willis and Wade, Trump’s lawyers signed on to a legal motion Thursday put forth by Roman that seeks to disqualify the Fulton County district attorney from handling the Georgia election interference and RICO case, ABC News reported.

  • The filing by Trump’s lawyers alleges “an improper intimate personal relationship existed between Special Prosecutor Wade and District Attorney (DA) Willis, that Wade has been paid over $650,000 by the DA, and that taxpayer monies were used by Wade to take the DA on lavish vacations."

  • It also seeks to have all charges against the former president dropped.

  • Roman first accused Willis of misconduct in a Jan. 8 court filing.

  • McAfee has scheduled an evidentiary hearing into the matter on Feb. 15 and given Willis until Feb. 2 to respond to Roman’s allegations.

  • Willis has offered guarded public statements about the alleged misconduct. She hired Wade as the lead prosecutor in the case after two other candidates turned down the job, according to reporting that appears in the forthcoming book "Find Me the Votes: A Hard-Charging Georgia Prosecutor, a Rogue President, and the Plot to Steal and American Election" by Daniel Klaidman and Michael Isikoff.

Why it matters: It’s unclear exactly how the allegations of misconduct will impact the case against Trump and 15 others. So far, four of the original 19 co-defendants have pleaded guilty in the case that centers on efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election in Georgia.

Jan. 6 election interference

Peter Navarro sentenced to four months in prison for defying Congressional subpoena

Key players: Former Trump trade adviser Peter Navarro, U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta, former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon

  • On Thursday, Mehta handed Navarro a four-month prison sentence and a fine of $9,500 after he was found guilty of two counts of contempt of Congress for defying a subpoena issued by the House Jan. 6 select committee, the Guardian reported.

  • During his trial, Navarro said he believed executive privilege shielded him from having to cooperate with the committee, but he failed to produce evidence that Trump had extended that privilege to him.

  • “The words ‘executive privilege’ are not magical incantations,” Mehta said during the sentencing hearing.

  • Prosecutors had asked the judge to sentence Navarro to six months in prison.

  • Bannon also received a four-month prison sentence on the same contempt of Congress charges, but his lawyers are appealing that decision.

  • Navarro worked with Bannon on a plan they called “the Green Bay sweep” that sought to use Republican lawmakers to contest ballots in the 2020 election in order to overturn Trump’s defeat in key swing states.

  • Mehta has yet to decide whether Navarro must begin serving his sentence immediately or whether it can be delayed pending an appeal by his lawyers.

Why it matters: Prison sentences for contempt of Congress are rare, but the cases against Bannon and Navarro underscore the larger legal peril facing Trump and those who helped him devise a plot to overturn the 2020 election.

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Wednesday, January 24

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Judge Tanya Chutkan announces that a trial she will oversee for Jan. 6 defendant Anthony Mastanduno will begin on April 2, making it clear that former President Donald Trump’s trial on election interference charges will be pushed back. Here are the latest court developments for the former White House occupant seeking reelection in 2024.

Jan. 6 election interference

Chutkan scheduling decision indicates Trump’s trial will be delayed

Key players: Jan. 6 defendant Anthony Mastanduno, U.S. District Court Judge Tanya Chutkan, United States Supreme Court

  • In a court docket filing issued Wednesday, Chutkan announced she had scheduled a trial for Mastanduno to begin on April 2, a clear indication that Trump’s trial, which was supposed to begin on March 4, would indeed be delayed.

  • Chutkan had already indicated that the trial would be delayed. Last week, she issued an order preventing special counsel Jack Smith from filing motions in the case without permission, Politico reported, while Trump pursues his appeals of Chutkan’s ruling that presidential immunity claims do not protect him from being prosecuted for his attempts to overturn the 2020 election.

  • The U.S. Court of Appeals is expected to rule soon on the matter, but if that decision goes against him, Trump is expected to take his appeal to the Supreme Court.

  • Wednesday’s announcement made it likely that the earliest Trump’s federal election interference trial could begin would be mid-April.

  • Mastanduno is charged with “civil disorder and assaulting, resisting, or impeding certain officers using a dangerous weapon, both felony offenses,” according to the Department of Justice.

  • He is one of 1,265 people who have been arrested and charged for their actions on Jan. 6, 2021, when a violent mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol building to try to block the Electoral College certification of Trump’s loss to Joe Biden in 2020.

  • At least 749 defendants have been sentenced so far, with at least 467 of them receiving prison time, the DOJ said.

Why it matters: Trump has long sought to delay the trial proceedings in the many cases against him. Polls have consistently found that a criminal conviction could significantly diminish his support among voters in 2024.

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Tuesday, January 23

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The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit denies a request by former President Donald Trump to lift or revisit a gag order put in place by Judge Tanya Chutkan in the federal election interference case designed to prevent him from commenting about witnesses and courtroom staff in the case. Here are the latest legal developments for the former president hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

Jan. 6 election interference

Appeals court rejects Trump request to consider lifting gag order

Key players: U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, Judge Tanya Chutkan, special counsel Jack Smith, United States Supreme Court

  • On Tuesday, the court denied a request by Trump’s lawyers to rehear arguments on whether to lift a gag order put in place by Chutkan aimed at preventing Trump from disparaging witnesses and courtroom staff in the federal election interference case against him, ABC News reported.

  • None of the 11 justices on the appeals court requested a vote on the issue of reexamining the gag order. That means that the Supreme Court is Trump’s only remaining venue to challenge the gag order.

  • In December, a federal appeals court also upheld the gag order.

  • Trump is not prevented from criticizing Smith, the appeals court ruled.

  • The election interference case brought by Smith is on hold until the Supreme Court issues a ruling on whether presidential immunity protects Trump from prosecution stemming from his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.

Why it matters: As with the question of presidential immunity, the Supreme Court could now be the final lifeline for Trump in terms of his ability to defy Chutkan’s attempts to keep him from attacking those who appear in her courtroom.

E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit

COVID fears push back Trump testimony until Wednesday

Key players: Judge Lewis Kaplan, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, columnist E. Jean Carroll

  • Trump is expected to take the witness stand on Wednesday in the second civil defamation trial brought by Carroll after Kaplan delayed the proceedings due to the illness of a juror, USA Today reported.

  • On Monday, the juror was tested for COVID-19, and Habba also indicated that she had been exposed to the virus.

  • Habba asked Kaplan to postpone the proceedings until Wednesday so that Trump could travel to New Hampshire, which is holding its presidential primary on Tuesday.

  • The trial is expected to wrap up this week.

Why it matters: It remains unclear whether Trump, who continues to defame Carroll, will take the witness stand in his own defense. His persistent attacks on her character and his denial that he never sexually assaulted her even though a separate jury concluded that he did, could prove costly.