Court tosses out Trump defamation countersuit against writer E Jean Carroll

Trump had objected to comments Carroll made doubling down on rape allegations she made against the former US president.

Donald Trump, dressed in a blue suit and red tie, exits a black vehicle with tinted windows.
Former United States President Donald Trump faces a second defamation suit brought by the writer E Jean Carroll [File: Alex Brandon/AP Photo]

A United States judge has dismissed Donald Trump’s defamation counterclaim against the writer E Jean Carroll, who is pursuing a second defamation lawsuit against the former US president after winning a $5m jury verdict in May.

On Monday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan said Trump’s defamation claim must be dismissed because Carroll’s statements were at least “substantially true”, and Trump failed to show that Carroll made them with actual malice.

Trump had sued Carroll for defamation after she said, “Oh yes, he did. Oh yes, he did,” when asked on the television channel CNN about the jury’s finding that he had not raped her. The jury had found him liable for sexual assault.

He also objected to Carroll recounting how she had told his lawyer, “He did it and you know it,” shortly after the verdict was read.

Kaplan had previously said there had been convincing proof that Trump “deliberately and forcibly” penetrated Carroll’s vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and long-lasting emotional and psychological harm to Carroll.

The verdict reflected that “Mr Trump ‘raped’ her, albeit digitally rather than with his penis”, Kaplan wrote on Monday. “Thus, it establishes against him the substantial truth of Ms Carroll’s ‘rape’ accusations.”

Kaplan also struck some of Trump’s affirmative defences, including that he had “absolute presidential immunity” from being sued.

E Jean Carroll — a woman in sunglasses and a bob haircut — plies through a crowd of reporters as she exits the Manhattan Federal Courthouse in May to enter a waiting vehicle.
E Jean Carroll was awarded $5m in May after a jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing her [File: Andrew Kelly/Reuters]

Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said “We strongly disagree with the flawed decision and will be filing an appeal shortly.”

Lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge and represents Carroll, said she was pleased with the decision, which means the civil trial scheduled for January 15, 2024, “will be limited to a narrow set of issues and shouldn’t take very long to complete”.

Trump had filed his counterclaim in a second defamation lawsuit by Carroll, where she is seeking at least $10m.

Both lawsuits stemmed from Trump’s denials of Carroll’s claim that he had forced himself upon and raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-1990s.

Source: Reuters