Takeaways from E. Jean Carroll’s testimony at a contentious Day 2 of the Trump defamation trial

Donald Trump clashed in court Wednesday with yet another judge overseeing one of his trials, after the judge in his civil defamation case threatened to remove the former president for making comments that could be overheard by the jury while his accuser was testifying.

The exchange with Judge Lewis Kaplan was merely the latest in a string of Trump’s in-court fights during two civil trials in New York over the past several months, episodes that offer a preview of what’s to come if any of the former president’s criminal trials are held this year as he runs for president.

Meanwhile, on the witness stand, E. Jean Carroll told the jury how Trump’s statements after she went public about him allegedly sexually assaulting her shattered her reputation and led to an onslaught of threatening messages. A civil jury last year found Carroll’s allegations to be credible.

“I thought I was going to get shot,” she said.

Here’s what to know from Wednesday’s court session:

Trump vs. the judge, again

Trump did not attend the Carroll defamation trial last year, but it didn’t take long for his presence in the courtroom this week to upend the proceedings.

Carroll attorney Shawn Crowley complained about Trump’s audible commentary just before the first break in the trial, after the jury had been excused. When Kaplan returned to the bench, he told Trump to “take special care” to keep his voice down while speaking to his attorneys so he could not be heard by the jury.

But after Crowley said again before lunch that Trump could still be heard – saying things like, “It is a witch hunt” and “it really is a con job.”

The judge then issued a stern warning.

“Mr. Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited, and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which what has been reported to me consists of, and if he disregards court orders,” Kaplan said. “Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial.”

Trump threw up in his hands in protest.

“I understand you’re very eager for me to do that,” Kaplan said to Trump.

“I would love it,” Trump said.

Kaplan responded by telling Trump that “you just can’t control yourself in these circumstances apparently.”

Trump ultimately was not kicked out of court, but he took to social media and then cameras at his 40 Wall Street building to attack the judge in the case, before heading back to New Hampshire for a political rally Wednesday evening.

The exchange was similar to several tense episodes Trump had during his civil fraud trial with Judge Arthur Engoron in New York state court. Engoron warned Trump he could be removed as a witness for launching into political speeches, and the judge even called Trump up to the witness stand for impromptu questioning at one point after Trump’s comments ran afoul of the judge’s gag order on statements about court staff.

Trump could still testify in this case, which could present an even bigger challenge for Kaplan, who has ruled that if Trump testifies, he will not be allowed to testify that he didn’t assault Carroll and that she lied about the rape allegation, since those questions were already decided by a civil jury in last year’s trial.

In this courtroom sketch, Donald Trump sits with arms folded beside his attorney, Alina Habba in Federal Court, in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024.

In this courtroom sketch, Donald Trump sits with arms folded beside his attorney, Alina Habba in Federal Court, in New York, Wednesday, Jan. 17, 2024.

Carroll says attacks started ‘instantaneously’ after Trump statement

Trump’s in-trial commentary at the defense table was delivered in response to the testimony of Carroll, who recounted how Trump’s 2019 statements about her led to threatening messages and upended her sense of safety.

Carroll described several safety precautions she’s taken out of fear due to the threatening messages, including hiring security at both trials and keeping a gun at her bedside. “I bought bullets for the gun I had inherited from my father,” Carroll said.

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Carroll’s voice broke as she described another violent message she received after the trial last year.

“When a woman sees the words, we can’t help but think of the image. And so, he wants me to stick a gun in my mouth and pull the trigger,” she said, reading the email. “And I imagine that many of us now can picture that.”

After Trump’s comments in the days following the New York Magazine story in 2019, which included the allegation that Trump sexually assaulted her, the attacks started “instantaneously,” Carroll said.

“I was attacked,” she said. “I was attacked on Twitter. I was brutually attacked on Facebook. I was attacked in news blogs. I was attacked in messages. As I said, it was a new world. I had left the world of facts, a lovely world, and I was living in a new universe.”

During cross-examination, Carroll testified there were about five hours between when her 2019 story published and when Trump made a statement denying the allegations, in response to questioning from Trump’s attorney Alina Habba. Carroll confirmed she received harassing social media messages before Trump made any statements.

Habba also pressed Carroll about deleting or removing the threatening messages when she received them, making a motion for a mistrial because of the deleted messages, which was promptly denied by Kaplan.

Habba argued in her opening statement Tuesday that Carroll’s story fueled the harassment, not Trump’s denials.

Judge spars with Trump’s lawyers, too

Trump’s lawyers also got into several disputes with the judge, including when they asked Kaplan to recuse himself after the exchange about possibly removing the former president from the courtroom.

Trump attorney Michael Madaio cited a “general hostility” toward Trump and his lawyers.

Madaio complained that the judge immediately accepted the statements from Carroll’s attorney not “that President Trump cannot control himself, that he was disruptive,” he said. “And there’s also been a general hostility towards the defense throughout this case.”

“Denied,” Kaplan said in response.

Earlier Wednesday, Kaplan told Habba to sit down after she tried yet again to get Kaplan to postpone the trial on Thursday so Trump could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral.

“I will hear no further argument on it. None. Do you understand that word? None. Please sit down,” Kaplan said.

“I don’t like to be spoken to that way,” Habba responded.

When Habba began her cross-examination of Carroll, the judge quickly interjected, admonishing the lawyer for raising an excerpt of Carroll’s 2022 deposition when he did not have a copy or know what lines Habba wanted to read from.

“Now look, Ms. Habba,” Kaplan said as Habba began to read from the transcript. “We’re going to do it my way in this courtroom, and that’s all there is to it.”

After Habba began reading from harassing messages Carroll received in 2019, before the messages had been entered into evidence, Kaplan called for a trial recess. “You should refresh your memory about how it is you get a document into evidence,” Kaplan said to her after the jury had left the courtroom.

Kaplan showed little patience for procedural missteps on either side, telling Carroll’s attorney at one point they could not see exhibits ahead of time to scan for potential redactions. “When the document is authenticated and offered that’s when you say objection and that’s when we deal with it,” Kaplan said.

What’s next and where’s Trump

Carroll will be back on the stand Thursday morning for Habba to finish her cross-examination.

The former president is not expected to be there watching, as Trump plans to travel to Florida for his mother-in-law’s funeral, and Kaplan declined to postpone the trial in his absence at Trump’s request again on Wednesday.

Kaplan said that if the defense calls Trump as a witness, they can do so on Monday even if the rest of the case wraps up on Thursday. Court will not be in session Friday.

One major difference between this trial – a civil trial in federal court – and the Trump Org. civil fraud trial in New York state court is that Trump does not have easy access to a camera at the federal courthouse where the civil defamation trial is taking place.

So he’s turned to his property at about a mile south of the courthouse instead. Trump made a pit stop at 40 Wall Street before heading to New Hampshire for a campaign rally ahead of next week’s primary, giving him an outlet to rail against this case and the others he’s facing.

Trump made a brief statement without taking questions, attacking the judge – “He’s a nasty judge. He’s a Trump-hating guy,” Trump said – as well as repeating his claims that he didn’t know Carroll, statements that he can’t make if he testifies in the case, because the sexual assault allegations have already been decided by the previous civil jury.https://saladbiji.com/

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