Donald Trump’s recent town hall event on CNN was unfortunate for a great many reasons, including its timing. As regular readers know, it was just one day earlier when a unanimous jury held the former president liable for sexual abuse and awarded E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages.
The Republican no doubt realized that he’d be asked about the trial’s outcome, which meant he and his lawyers had more than 24 hours to prepare a response. With this in mind, it came as a bit of a surprise when Trump turned his attention to his accuser during the event, insisting Carroll peddled “a fake story,” adding, “[S]he is a whack job.”
Or put another way, literally one day after Carroll won a defamation case against Trump, he thought it’d be a good idea to go on national television and go after her rhetorically once more.
This did not go unnoticed by Carroll’s lawyers. NBC News reported last night:
Writer E. Jean Carroll on Monday asked a judge to update her still pending original defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump to add a new claim after he trashed her as a “whack job” during his CNN town hall earlier this month. In a court filing late Monday, Carroll attorney Roberta Kaplan said her client will be seeking a “very substantial punitive damages award” for Trump’s remarks.
These developments did not come out of nowhere. The New York Times reported two weeks ago that Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, was giving “serious consideration” to taking fresh legal action against the former president, and Kaplan also appeared on The Rachel Maddow Show, confirming that she saw Trump’s comments as “definitely actionable.” She added on the air, “He’s not going to get away with it another time.”
Evidently, she meant it.
Updating our recent coverage, it’s worth clarifying the scope and the details of Carroll’s litigation. There was, of course, a defamation case, which she won, and the verdict of which the Republican is appealing. There’s also a separate lawsuit over comments Trump made about her in 2019, and that case is still pending as the courts consider whether he can be sued over comments he made during his tenure as president.
Following CNN’s town hall event, there was some speculation about Carroll possibly filing a third lawsuit, but we now know that’s not happening: Yesterday’s court filing instead shows that the plaintiff has amended the pending case to reflect Trump’s latest comments.
“During the exchange, Trump falsely stated that he did not sexually abuse Carroll, that he has no idea who Carroll was, and that Carroll’s now-proven accusation was a ‘fake’ and ‘made up story’ created by a ‘whack job,’” among other insults, according to the filing.
“This conduct supports a very substantial punitive damages award in Carroll’s favor both to punish Trump, to deter him from engaging in further defamation, and to deter others from doing the same,” it added.
As for what Carroll and her attorney are seeking, the amended complaint is seeking at least $10 million in compensatory damages — and additional punitive damages “to be determined at trial.”
For his part, common sense might suggest that the former president refrain from further comment, and communicate solely through counsel, but Trump apparently can’t quite help himself.
This morning, by way of his social media platform, the Republican published a pair of odd missives, arguing anew, “I don’t know E. Jean Carroll, I never met her or touched her. … I wouldn’t want to know or touch her, I never abused her or raped her or took her to a dressing room 25 years ago in a crowded department store where the doors are LOCKED, she has no idea when, or did anything else to her, except deny her Fake, Made Up Story, that she wrote in a book. IT NEVER HAPPENED, IS A TOTAL SCAM, UNFAIR TRIAL!”
He went on to claim the case “is part of the Democrats [sic] playbook.”