Former President Trump has been present for round two of the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial. As I described here, the judge ruled months ago that this trial would not be a do-over on the question of whether or not Trump sexually abused Carroll more than two decades ago. Instead, the jury would only be deciding how much Trump would have to pay for additional instances of defamation on top of the $5 million he was ordered to pay Carroll in the first trial.
Today, Trump made a show of his disagreement with Carroll’s testimony which led to complaints from her attorneys that Trump’s outbursts could be overheard by the jury.
Trump repeatedly shook his head in anger and made comments to his lawyer throughout Carroll’s testimony. At one point, Kaplan told Trump’s attorney to sit down after denying her objection. Trump slammed the table and commented to his attorney, “nasty guy,” apparently referring to the judge.
During the morning break, Carroll lawyer Shawn Crowley told the judge that Trump had been loudly making comments, saying some statements were “false” and making cracks about Carroll’s memory.
Before the jury returned, Kaplan said, “I’m just going to ask Mr. Trump to take special care to keep his voice down so the jury does not overhear it.”
The request did not take. When the jury broke for lunch, Crowley told the judge that Trump had continued his commentary, and that some jurors could have heard him say “this really is a con job” and “it’s a witch hunt.”
This led to another warning, this time directly to Trump, that he could be ejected from the courtroom unless he controlled himself.
“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial,” Kaplan said in an exchange after the jury was excused for lunch, adding: “I understand you’re probably eager for me to do that.”
“I would love it,” the Republican presidential front-runner shot back, shrugging as he sat between lawyers Alina Habba and Michael Madaio at the defense table.
“I know you would like it. You just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently,” Kaplan responded.
“You can’t either,” Trump muttered.
During the lunch break Trump posted criticism of the judge on Truth Social. One of them said:
I feel an obligation to be at every moment of this ridiculous trial because we have a seething and hostile Clinton-appointed Judge, Lewis Kaplan, who suffers from a major case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. In the first trial, with the same Judge, where I was asked not to go by my lawyers because it was “beneath me as a former President of the United States,” he was reported to have been extraordinarily hostile to our side. But I should have gone, if for no other reason than to witness and speak up against the abuse carried out by this Judge. There was no way that case should have been lost! I was accused of something that I didn’t do. Now, because I want to be at this Witch Hunt 100% of the time and watch what is going on, my attorneys asked the Judge for a one day delay so that I can attend the funeral of my beloved mother-in-law, with my wife and entire family, tomorrow in Palm Beach, Florida.…
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba also had several run ins with the judge. Politico reporter Erica Orden posted this exchange on X:
Habba: “I don’t like to be spoken to that way, your honor.” She continued to ask for an adjournment, at which point Kaplan cut her off again:
“It’s denied. Sit down.”
— erica orden (@eorden) January 17, 2024
On one level, I don’t get what Trump is trying to do here. The jury is going to decide how much he owes Carroll and that’s all. Under the circumstances, how does carrying on in the courtroom help him? Carroll is asking for $10 million in damages plus punitive damages. Trump’s continued attacks on her via Truth Social seem likely to convince the jury they need to send a message. In fact, that was the argument Carroll’s attorney made in court.
Crowley noted that Trump had continued his attacks since the last verdict, including the posts on Truth Social while he was in court.
“He sat in this courthouse this morning. And while he was sitting there, he posted more defamatory statements, more lies about Ms. Carroll and this case. By our count, by our last count, 22 posts just today. Think about that. Think about that when you consider how much money will it take to get him to stop,” she said.
At this point the only answer that makes sense is that Trump already knows he’s going to get clobbered in court so he’s hoping to get some free media out of it at least.