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The federal judge overseeing columnist E. Jean Carroll’s damage award defamation trial against former President Donald Trump clashed in the courtroom with one of his lawyers and even threatened jail time at one point.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan reportedly sparred with attorney and spokeswoman Alina Habba during proceedings on Friday, according to multiple reports.
According to MSNBC’s Katie Phang:
Trump’s lawyers try to use slides of tweets that weren’t entered into evidence and Carroll objects.
Judge: You’re not showing the slide.
Habba: But, your Honor…
Judge: Sit down. You are on the verge of spending some time in the lock-up.
“Trump walked out of the courtroom during Carroll’s lawyer’s closing arguments in which her lawyer Roberta Kaplan directly criticized his actions during the trial saying that he ‘spent the entire trial continuing to engage in defamation,’” reported NBC News.
“Kaplan noted the incident in the record,” the report noted further.
Trump briefly testified on Thursday in the civil trial. According to courtroom reporters, Habba asked Trump on the stand if he maintained his denial of the alleged sexual assault by Carroll, which he affirmed. When she inquired whether he refuted the accusations, Trump responded, “Precisely correct.”
“She said something. I consider it a false accusation,” he said, an answer Kaplan struck from the record, citing the previous trial’s verdict that Trump had, in fact, sexually abused Carroll — and the judge’s specific rulings that Trump was barred from trying to re-litigate that issue in this trial.
After the judge didn’t allow me to use E. Jean Carrol’s heinous tweets as evidence and threatened my lawyer, Alina Habba. I stormed out of the courtroom. Judge Kaplan is a political opposition who isn’t allowing evidence against #EJeanCarroll in the case!
— Donald J. Trump (Parody) (@realDonParody) January 26, 2024
Habba then asked if Trump wanted to hurt Carroll, to which he replied, “No. I wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.” Kaplan also struck that from the record.
According to legal reporter Adam Klasfeld, Trump “sneered at the spectators in the gallery” on his way out of the courtroom and said, “It’s not America. It’s not America. This is not America.”
Kaplan reprimanded Trump for speaking loudly and interrupting his attorney before he testified, “I never met this woman.”
Last week, Trump’s lawyer and spokeswoman also clashed with the judge.
According to CNN, a dispute arose between U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, and Habba when he denied her request to delay the trial so that Trump could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral. When Habba insisted on a temporary adjournment of the trial to accommodate Trump’s later presence, a disagreement ensued between her and Kaplan.
The judge rejected her claims, asserting that the trial’s proceedings had already been set. Kaplan further conveyed that he would not entertain any additional arguments from her regarding the matter.
“When the ruling is made that is the end not the beginning of the argument,” Kaplan said at one point — perhaps as a nod to the lengthy arguments Judge Arthur Engoron allowed in Trump’s recent New York civil fraud trial.
Habba requested the judge grant an adjournment Thursday, so Trump does not have to decide whether to be in court at trial or his mother-in-law’s funeral.
“I am asking you, sir, now for a one-day adjournment of this trial” Thursday to “allow my clients to be there so that he can be present for every day of this trial as he has a right to be,” Habba said.
“I am not stopping him from being there,” Kaplan said.
“No, you’re stopping him from being here, Your Honor,” Habba responded.
“The argument is over,” Kaplan said, declining to change his previous ruling.
Kaplan and Trump also had some exchanges during the fiery hearing. At one point, Kaplan warned Trump that he would lose his court privileges if he continued to disparage Carroll to his attorneys throughout the trial.