OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author’s opinion.
A federal judge has imposed several limits on what former President Donald Trump and his legal team can say during an upcoming trial for defaming writer E. Jean Carroll.
According to The New Republic, the trial for comments he made while president in 2019 in which he claimed that Carroll accused him of raping her so she could promote her memoir starts next week, on Tuesday. The presiding judge, Lewis Kaplan, has already determined that Trump is liable for defamation, meaning the trial is mostly to set damages.
“Kaplan issued an order Tuesday barring Trump and his lawyers from discussing Carroll’s choice of lawyer or who might be paying her legal fees. They are prohibited from making comments ‘concerning Ms. Carroll’s past romantic relationships, sexual disposition, and prior sexual experiences,’ and they cannot argue that Trump did not sexually abuse Carroll or act with actual malice when making his comments about her” the outlet reported.
Here’s the list of what he can’t offer as evidence, argument, or comments in the jury’s presence. And while it’s not everything Carroll’s side wanted, it might finally convince Trump that his testifying would be a bad idea. 3/ pic.twitter.com/XLayfVCVdA
— Lisa Rubin (@lawofruby) January 9, 2024
Lawyers for the former president have argued that Carroll’s lawsuits are politically motivated and have been funded by a left-wing billionaire. They have also claimed that Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan — who is no relation to the judge — is biased because she has also represented several prominent Democrats.
The New Republic added:
Judge Kaplan had already ruled over the weekend that Trump can’t argue he didn’t rape Carroll. Although Trump was found liable for sexual abuse, Kaplan has repeatedly stated that Trump “‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”
Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, ruled that Trump defamed Carroll by denying in June 2019 that he had sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s and by accusing her of lying about the incident in order to promote her book. Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million for the sexual assault by a jury in a civil case in May.
“Kaplan also rejected Trump’s claim that any damages awarded to Carroll, who is seeking $10 million, should be reduced because the earlier verdict covered some of them and she did not deserve to recover twice,” reported Reuters of the ruling.
Judge Kaplan wrote that the “jury found that Mr. Trump knew that his statement that Ms. Carroll lied about him sexually assaulting her for improper and ulterior purposes was false or that he acted with reckless disregard to whether it was false. Whether Mr. Trump made the 2019 statements with actual malice raises the same issue.”
“The jury considered and decided issues that are common to both cases,” Kaplan concluded.
The trial is set for Jan. 15 to determine damages — the same day as the country’s first primary in Iowa.
Kaplan rejected Trump’s claim that Carroll defamed him “with statements she made in media appearances following her successful defamation and battery lawsuit against him, which resulted in a $5 million damage award,” ABC News reported.
Trump’s lawyers argued that Carroll’s statements caused “significant harm to his reputation,” which made him entitled to punitive and compensatory damages.
In her public appearances after the verdict, Carroll maintained that Trump had raped her, even though the jury concluded that Carroll hadn’t demonstrated Trump’s guilt for rape according to the definition in New York penal law. Rather, the jury determined that Trump had “sexually abused” Carroll.
Kaplan said the jury’s finding “implicitly determined that he forcibly penetrated her” with his fingers.
“In other words, that Mr. Trump in fact did ‘rape’ Ms. Carroll as that term commonly is used and understood in contexts outside New York Penal Law,” Kaplan wrote in his order dismissing Trump’s counterclaim.
“The instructions with respect to the rape question thus made clear that if the jury found that Mr. Trump forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, but not also with his penis, it was obliged to answer ‘no’ to the rape question,” the judge wrote. “However, if it found that Mr. Trump forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll digitally, it was obliged to answer ‘yes’ to the sexual abuse question, as the New York Penal Law definition of ‘sexual abuse’ encompasses such conduct.”