Former president Donald Trump has stormed out of court during the closing arguments in the E Jean Carroll defamation trial.
Trump left the courtroom during a statement Ms Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, was making on behalf of the writer, asking jurors to send Trump a message to stop abuse of her client. Judge Lewis A Kaplan interrupted the attorney in order to make a note for the record that Trump “just rose and walked out of the courtroom”.
The Republican primary hopeful walked out as Ms Carroll’s lawyer urged the jury to award her client at least $12 million in damages, saying Trump had shattered her reputation and her world by unleashing a flood of hate toward her through his public statements branding her a liar. Just minutes after Ms Kaplan began her closing argument in Manhattan federal court, Trump was seen suddenly rising from his seat at the defence table as he walked toward the exit – pausing the scan the packed courtroom as members of the Secret Service leapt into action to follow him out.
The unexpected departure came just minutes after the judge threatened to send Trump’s attorney Alina Habba to jail for continuing to speak when he had told her she was finished. He told Habba: “You are on the verge of spending some time in the lockup. Now, sit down.”
Trump, who is not required to attend the civil lawsuit proceedings, had appeared agitated throughout the morning and was seen vigorously shaking his head during attorney Kaplan’s closing arguments. Ms Carroll’s attorney had made a statement saying: ” Donald Trump has tried to normalise conduct that is abnormal”, prior to the presidential hopeful walking out.
Trump walked out of closing arguments at the Manhattan court
Closing arguments were being given in the defamation case against Trump brought by writer Jean E Carroll just a day after the controversial politician had left the courtroom fuming. His apparent foul mood yesterday was reportedly as a result of the fact he had not been given an opportunity to refute the accusations from Ms Carroll that Trump has sexually abused her.
Lawyers were summing up their arguments for the nine jurors who are due to start deliberating in order to reach a decision as to whether Ms Carroll, a longtime advice columnist, is entitled to more than the $5 million she was awarded in a separate trial last year. The final remarks from lawyers are being made just a day after Trump managed to sneak past a federal judge’s rules severely limiting what he could say during his stint on the witness stand, which ended up lasting just three minutes.
“She said something that I considered to be a false accusation,” Trump said, later adding: “I just wanted to defend myself, my family and, frankly, the presidency.” The jury was told by the judge to disregard both remarks.
Trump did not have to attend proceedings in this case but often chose to
A different Jury found last May that Trump sexually abused Ms Carroll in the spring of 1996 in the changing room of a luxury department store in Manhattan. It also found that he defamed her in 2022 by claiming she had invented the allegation in order to aid the sales of a memoir.
Trump has said he has long regretted his decision not to testify at that trial, blaming his lawyers for giving bad advice. During her closing, Ms Kaplan told jurors the current case was not about the sexual assault.
“We had that case,” she said, referring to the first trial. “That’s why Donald Trump’s testimony was so short yesterday. He doesn’t get a do-over this time.”
The jury in the new trial has been told it is there purely for the purpose of deciding whether Ms Carroll should be entitled to more than the $5 million awarded last year and jurors must accept the verdict reached last year. The current jury will only make a decision on whether additional damages are owed for statements Trump made in June 2019 during his time as president. The claims had been delayed for years by court appeals.
E. Jean Carroll arrives for her civil defamation trial against former President Donald Trump at Manhattan Federal Court on January 26
Ms Carroll’s legal team are seeking more than $10 million in compensatory and punitive damages. Ms Habba has argued against damages, saying Ms Carroll’s association with Trump had given her the game she craved and that death threats she received cannot be blamed on Trump’s remarks.
Ms Carroll, 80, testified during last year’s trial that she had a chance encounter with Trump at a Bergdorf Goodman store that was flirtatious and lighthearted until Trump cornered her in a changing room. Her claim that Trump raped her was rejected by last year’s jury, though it agreed she was sexually abused.
Last week, Ms Carroll testified that her career was shattered by Trump’s statements about her claims over the last five years, most recently on the campaign trail for president. She said she bought bullets for a gun she inherited from her father and installed an electronic fence around her home.
On Thursday, Trump testified that he stood “100%” behind comments he made in an October 2002 deposition in which he denied Ms Carroll’s accusations, calling her “sick” and a “whack job.” Judge Kaplan intends to instruct jurors Friday that the jury last year concluded that Trump had digitally penetrated Ms Carroll in the department store, but the same jury did not find that he had raped her, according to how rape is defined under New York state law.