Trump faces $10 million defamation claim by E. Jean Carroll after CNN town hall remarks

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Writer E. Jean Carroll arrives as jury selection is set to begin in the defamation case against former US President Donald Trump brought by Carroll, who accused him of raping her in the 1990s, at the Manhattan Federal Court, New York, April 25, 2023. 

Timothy A. Clary | AFP | Getty Images

E. Jean Carroll filed court papers Monday seeking “very substantial” monetary damages from Donald Trump for making scathing remarks about her at a CNN town hall a day after the former president lost a $5 million lawsuit to the writer.

Carroll now is seeking no less than $10 million from Trump in damages in her original lawsuit in light of what he said May 10 on CNN.

The move came as her lawyers asked a Manhattan federal court judge for permission to amend that first defamation lawsuit, which she lodged against Trump in 2019, to reflect his new statements on CNN about her, which they say also are defamatory.

“Trump’s defamatory statements post-verdict show the depth of his malice toward Carroll since it is hard to imagine defamatory conduct that could possibly be more motivated by hatred, ill will, or spite,” the proposed amended complaint said.

“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,” the complaint said.

Carroll’s second lawsuit, filed in late 2022 and alleging rape and defamation, ended with a jury in that court after less than three hours of deliberations finding Trump liable for sexually abusing her and for defaming her last fall when he denied her allegations.

Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina, who did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday, filed a notice of appeal of that verdict.

Carroll has said Trump, 76, raped her in the mid-1990s in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan.

He denies sexually assaulting her but has made a series of comments over the years accusing her of making up the claim.

Carroll’s new proposed amended lawsuit notes during his CNN town hall interview, “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.'”

“Trump also insulted Carroll’s character and downplayed his sexual abuse of her by asking ‘what kind of woman meets someone’ and then ‘within minutes’ plays ‘hanky-panky in a dressing room,'” the amended complaint says.

The filing notes about 3.3 million people watched the CNN broadcast and heard the audience in the studio “applauding and laughing along uproariously to Trump’s comments.”

The filing cites several Twitter posts that echoed Trump’s “many lies and demeaning remarks” about Carroll.

“These and other similar messages are exactly what Trump intended,” the amended complaint said.

“Trump used a national platform to demean and mock Carroll. He egged on a laughing audience as he made light of his violent sexual assault, called Carroll names, implied that Carroll was asking to be assaulted, and dismissed the jury’s verdict vindicating Carroll.”

If Judge Lewis Kaplan allows Carroll to amend her pending lawsuit, it would be the latest example in a series of Trump’s statements about her adding to his civil legal peril.

Patrick Luff, an attorney who is not connected to the case, said that “the standard for amending a pleading is very low.”

But Luff also said that if the details of Trump’s CNN comments are added to the existing complaint, “I don’t know how much this advances the ball from a legal standpoint.”

“The damages would only still be relative to what she suffered from the 2019 defamation,” said Luff, the founding partner of the Dallas-based Luff Law Firm.

Carroll, 79, went public with her allegation against Trump in a June 2019 New York magazine article, at a time when he was still president.

She filed her first lawsuit against him in New York state court in November 2019, claiming he defamed her by saying she was lying and had been motivated by a political agenda and a desire to boost sales of a book with her allegations.

The first lawsuit was transferred to Manhattan federal court when the Department of Justice sought to replace Trump as a defendant, on the grounds that he was acting as president when he made those statements.

Judge Kaplan refused to let the DOJ stand in Trump’s place but appeals about his decision have prevented the lawsuit from going to trial yet.

Carroll filed a second lawsuit in Manhattan federal court last year, taking advantage of a new New York state law that allowed accusers in sexual assault or misconduct cases to file lawsuits within a one-year window if they would otherwise be barred by the civil statute of limitations.

That second complaint also alleged defamation, citing statements by Trump last fall that repeated his claim she made up being raped, calling her allegations “a complete con job,” and saying Carroll was not his “type.”

Trump is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination. He has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least two dozen women, among them his late wife Ivana Trump, who during their divorce in the late 1980s, said he had raped her. Ivana Trump later retracted the allegation.

Two women who said Trump groped them against their will testified at his recent civil trial for Carroll’s lawsuit.

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