Trump Dealt Another Major Legal Blow

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E. Jean Carroll achieved a measure of success in her defamation case against ex-President Trump on Wednesday. The presiding judge, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, determined that a trial is only required to establish the amount Trump should compensate Carroll.

This decision marks a setback for Trump. Judge Kaplan concluded that Trump maligned Carroll by making untruthful claims with genuine malice in June 2019, shortly after she made public accusations of a past sexual assault by Trump.

A previous jury decision in May, from another lawsuit Carroll brought against Trump, ruled him accountable for both the alleged assault and defamation. This decision now has bearing on the current case.

Judge Kaplan emphasized, “The jury deduced that Trump was either knowingly false in stating Carroll was deceitfully accusing him for ulterior motives or he disregarded the truth of his claims. The question of Trump’s actual malice during the 2019 comments is therefore linked to this.”

A court hearing is slated for January 15 in New York, aligning with the Iowa Republican caucus. With Kaplan’s decision, the purpose of this trial is only to determine the compensation Trump must pay to Carroll.

Carroll has brought a defamation lawsuit against Trump for his trio of initial rebuttals to her allegations. These denials consist of a formal response to journalists, Trump’s remarks on the South Lawn, and an interview with The Hill after the story’s initial publication.

After some legal delays, Carroll subsequently initiated another trial against Trump this year. The jury from this trial sided with Carroll, acknowledging Trump’s mistreatment of Carroll in 1996 in a New York store and his defamation in a 2022 denial.

Currently, Trump is challenging this previous verdict, termed “Carroll II”. Carroll posits that this verdict renders Trump liable in her primary lawsuit, a stance with which Judge Kaplan concurred on Wednesday, though he exempted Trump’s interview with The Hill.

Alina Habba, Trump’s legal representative, voiced her confidence in overturning the “Carroll II” verdict, suggesting that any current decisions would then be irrelevant.

The core argument from Trump’s legal team is the distinction between Trump’s 2019 comments and the statement he was found liable for. In Judge Kaplan’s recent decree, he pointed out that the jury’s confirmation of Carroll’s credibility directly influences the legitimacy of Trump’s 2019 remarks.

Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney (and not related to the judge), commended the decision, expressing eagerness for the upcoming trial focused solely on damages for Trump’s 2019 comments.

This January trial is merely one of several legal challenges Trump confronts in the coming months amidst his bid for a political comeback. He’s also attempting to postpone an upcoming civil fraud trial, and he has multiple other legal concerns on the horizon, ranging from issues post the 2020 election to dealing with classified documents in Florida. A criminal trial in Georgia, linked to the 2020 election, awaits scheduling.