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Federal court: Trump liable for defamation in second Carroll case

E. Jean Carroll has already prevailed over Donald Trump once. In her other case, a judge has now determined that the only question is how much he owes her.


When it comes to the legal disputes between Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll, the former president has an uninterrupted streak of defeats. As NBC News reported, the trend continued in a federal court on Wednesday.

Writer E. Jean Carroll has already proven that Donald Trump defamed her, and a coming trial on her civil claims against the former president will focus solely on what money damages he owes her, a federal judge in New York ruled Wednesday. In a 25-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan found the substance of Carroll’s pending defamation claims were the same as that of the Trump insults that a jury determined were defamatory this year.

At this point, I imagine some readers are thinking, “Wait, didn’t this already happen?” The answer is, “Not exactly.”

It was three months ago when the writer won a civil case against the former president: A jury found the Republican liable for sexually abusing Carroll, and jurors awarded the writer $5 million in damages for her battery and defamation claims.

That case specifically focused on Carroll’s abuse claim, as well as the argument that Trump defamed her in 2022 when he called her account a “hoax” and “a con job.”

There was, however, a parallel case, in which the writer contested comments Trump made during his presidency. In 2019, the Republican publicly accused Carroll of seeking financial rewards in response to an attack that he said didn’t happen.

Kaplan issued a 25-page opinion concluding that the other case already determined that Trump is liable for defaming Carroll. Or put another way, the question isn’t whether the former president defamed the writer; the question is how much he owes her for having done so.

“The truth or falsity of Mr. Trump’s 2019 statements therefore depends — like the truth or falsity of his 2022 statement — on whether Ms. Carroll lied about Mr. Trump sexually assaulting her. The jury’s finding that she did not therefore is binding in this case and precludes Mr. Trump from contesting the falsity of his 2019 statements,” Kaplan wrote.

The next step is determining the scope of the damages.

It’s also worth noting for context that Trump and his attorneys also filed counterclaims against Carroll in June, alleging she defamed him by saying the former president raped her even after a jury found him not liable for doing so. But that case didn’t go his way, either: A federal judge concluded last month, “The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”

Those developments came on the heels of Team Trump’s failed lawsuit against CNN. Which came on the heels of a failed effort to derail the elections case in Fulton County, Georgia. Which came a few months after Team Trump was sanctioned by a federal judge for filing frivolous litigation.

In July, the former president peddled a curious boast via his social media platform. “These vicious Communists, Marxists, Fascists, and Radical Left Democrats have attacked my lawyers at a level never seen before, and yet I keep on winning,” the Republican declared.

In reality, his losing streak is a sight to behold.

This post updates our related earlier coverage.