Trump sex attack defamation trial with E. Jean Carroll begins, day after Iowa win

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Former President Donald Trump, center, departs Trump Tower in New York, US, on Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024.

David Dee Delgado | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Jury selection began Tuesday in the New York civil trial for a sex assault defamation lawsuit by the writer E. Jean Carroll against former President Donald Trump.

Trump was in the courtroom as prospective jurors began being questioned for the trial, which kicked off a day after he scored a landslide win in the Iowa Republican caucuses.

Three people were excused from the jury pool after answering “yes” when they were asked if they would be unable to give both sides a fair trial and decide a verdict based only on the evidence presented.

One would-be juror said she knew Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump, having worked for her on communications for her company in 2017. That woman said she could be impartial and remained in the jury pool.

A man in the pool said he knew Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, having worked together on pro bono legal matters. He also said he could be impartial in the case.

Opening statements were expected later Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.

Judge Lewis Kaplan began the proceedings by quickly rejecting a series of requests by Trump’s lawyers, including a motion that the trial be postponed so that he can attend his mother-in-law’s funeral on Thursday.

The trial will determine just one question: what damages Trump should pay Carroll for defamatory statements he made about her while he was president, and then again last year, denying her claim that he raped her in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Carroll’s lawyers want him to pay at least $10 million.

Another jury in a trial last fall found that the Trump had sexually abused her in the incident, and had defamed her in late 2022 in statements denying the allegation. That jury, which did not find him liable for raping Carroll, ordered him to pay her $5 million.

E. Jean Carroll arrives for her defamation trial against Former President Donald Trump at New York Federal Court on January 16, 2024 in New York City. 

Michael M. Santiago | Getty Images

Trump is appealing the verdict in that case.

Judge Kaplan, who has presided over both cases, in September said the verdict in the first trial, which found that Carroll was telling the truth about Trump assaulting her and “precludes Mr. Trump from contesting the falsity of his 2019 statements” about her.

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Trump blasted the judge and Carroll in several posts on his TruthSocial site Tuesday morning.

In one post he wrote, “have been considered an A-List celebrity for many decades,” and said he had been “wrongfully accused” by Carroll.

“She has been ‘all over the place’ on the timing of this alleged ‘incident,’ which never took place, and is being coached by Lunatic Radical Left Democrat operative attorney, Roberta Kaplan,” Trump ranted. “I am the only one who has been injured by this attempted EXTORTION.”

On Monday, Trump’s lawyer, Joseph Tacopina, withdrew from the case, and from a Manhattan Supreme Court criminal case where Trump is charged with falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels.

Tacopina, whose other celebrity clients have included New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, and the rappers Meek Mill and and A$AP Rocky, would not say why he was no longer representing Trump.

Trump in a social media post on Tuesday morning claimed the new trial is another example of his political enemies trying to harm his chances of regaining the White House.

“The Biden encouraged Witch Hunt in Lower Manhattan to fight against a FAKE Case from a woman I have never met, seen, or touched (Celebrity Lines don’t count!),” Trump wrote in his TruthSocial post.

“Naturally, it starts right after Iowa, and during the very important New Hampshire Primary where, despite their sinister attempts, I will be tonight! It is a giant Election Interference Scam, pushed and financed by political operatives. I had no idea who this woman was. PURE FICTION!” he wrote.

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