A jury has begun deliberations in the defamation trial against former President Donald Trump, determining whether he owes writer E. Jean Carroll additional compensation after a previous jury found him guilty of sexually abusing her in 1996. The jury commenced their deliberations after closing arguments, during which Trump dramatically exited the courtroom while one of Carroll's lawyers was speaking. He later returned, and his attorney defended him over statements he made while president in June 2019. Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, requested $24 million in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages. Trump's attorney, Alina Habba, argued that Trump told the truth when he refuted Carroll's claims and suggested that Carroll's accusations against Trump have actually boosted her fame and success.
During the closing arguments, Trump abruptly left the courtroom, prompting Judge Lewis A. Kaplan to comment on the record about Trump's departure. The judge had previously threatened to send Habba to jail for disregarding his instructions. Trump returned to the courtroom later to hear Habba argue against making him pay Carroll for hate messages she received as a result of his comments. Habba showed the jury a video in which Trump criticized the previous jury's verdict, calling it a "disgrace" and part of a "witch hunt." Habba argued that Trump's consistent denial of the allegations is because they are true.
Kaplan warned the jurors not to adopt the defense's argument that Carroll would not have faced online threats if she had not made claims against Trump. The judge instructed the jurors to only determine what, if anything, Trump owes Carroll after a previous jury awarded her $5 million.
Trump had previously testified that he regretted not testifying in the previous trial and had blamed his lawyers for bad advice. During the closing arguments, Kaplan emphasized that this trial was not about sexual assault, as that had been addressed in the previous trial. She urged the jurors to support the principle that the rule of law applies to everyone and asked them to send a message to Trump, who she claimed has shown contempt for the law.
Habba argued against awarding damages, stating that Carroll's association with Trump had actually brought her the fame she desired and that the death threats she received cannot be attributed solely to Trump's remarks.
Carroll, now 80, testified that her career had been destroyed by Trump's statements about her claims over the past five years. Trump testified that he stood by his previous comments denying Carroll's accusations.
The jury in this trial has been instructed to accept the previous verdict, which found that Trump had sexually abused Carroll but did not find him guilty of rape according to New York state law.