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Donald Trump’s mocking comments about E. Jean Carroll during post-verdict CNN town hall has created even more legal drama

E Jean Carroll and Donald Trump

E Jean Carroll and Donald Trump (l-r: AP Photos by Seth Wenig and Evan Vucci)

Donald Trump’s comments about writer E. Jean Carroll during a post-verdict CNN interview may lead to even more legal problems for the former president.

Carroll was awarded $5 million by a Manhattan civil jury on May 9, declaring that Trump more likely than not committed sexual abuse on her and defamed her when he denied the allegations and declared that she’s “not my type.”

On the day after the verdict, Trump appeared on the news network in a town hall interview and repeated many of the comments that got him sued for defamation in the first place, in addition to calling Carroll a “whack job” and claiming the sexual abuse allegations were a “made-up story.”

The “Ask E. Jean” columnist’s legal team extensively quoted that passage in a proposed amended complaint on Monday.

“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,'” the proposed amended complaint notes. “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.'”

Some 3.3 million viewers were watching Trump’s post-verdict swipes, with an audience of mostly supporters of the former president laughing and clapping along with the jeers.

In light of Trump’s comments, lawyers for Carroll have sent a letter to Senior U.S. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, revealing the intention to add these new comments as part of the remaining defamation lawsuit against Trump.

Carroll’s legal team argues that Trump’s continued swipes at her should leave him on the hook for even more damages.

“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 complaint states. “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.”

In 2019, Carroll first aired her allegations against Trump in an excerpt of her book “What Do We Need Men For,” a passage of which was published in New York Magazine. She sued shortly after Trump denied the sexual abuse allegations to reporters, alleging defamation. Carroll then filed a separate lawsuit after New York enacted the Adult Survivors Act, allowing her to tackle her sexual abuse allegations directly. The original defamation suit came to be known as Carroll I, and the one that ended in the landmark verdict was Carroll II.

In the still-pending Carroll I, Trump claimed that he was immune from that lawsuit as a then-sitting president, and the Department of Justice moved to intervene on his behalf. A protracted legal battle ensued, and that lawsuit remains active after the Washington, D.C., Court of Appeals refused to resolve the immunity claim from Trump.

To finally settle the question, a fact-finder — either Judge Kaplan or a jury — must decide whether Trump was acting in his duties as president when he ridiculed Carroll to reporters. Other than that question, Carroll’s legal team argues, the other questions were settled once a jury ruled against Trump after fewer than three hours of deliberations

“As a result, the preclusive effect of the Carroll II jury verdict leaves nothing to resolve with respect to the merits of the Carroll I defamation claim, beyond the amount of Carroll’s damages,” Carroll’s lead attorney Roberta Kaplan says.

Other than describing Trump’s post-verdict antics, Carroll’s legal team says, the proposed amended complaint “does not add any new claims or alter the nature of Carroll’s pending defamation claim in any way.”

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