Former President Donald Trump has suffered a blow in his ongoing battle with E. Jean Carroll, a prominent American writer and longtime advice columnist.
On Wednesday, a federal judge ruled that Trump defamed Carroll last year when he made false statements about her. The ruling means that a civil trial in January will decide the amount of damages the former president will have to pay the writer.
The battle between the pair dates back to 2019 when Carroll alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a New York City department store in 1996. Trump denied the accusations in a written statement, in comments he made on the White House South Lawn, and in an interview with The Hill at the White House.
On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Trump’s statements were made with actual malice and that the jury’s May verdict in Carroll’s other lawsuit against Trump – which found him liable for the assault and defaming Carroll – applies to this case as well.
The judge has ruled that a trial on January 15 – the same day as the Iowa Republican caucus – will only need to decide how much Trump must pay Carroll in damages.
Alina Habba, Trump’s legal spokesperson who represents him in this case, said: “We remain very confident that the Carroll II verdict will be overturned on appeal, which will render this decision moot…We also anticipate that the Second Circuit will stay this trial as it considers the meritorious defenses that have been raised by President Trump.”
Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said in a statement: “We look forward to trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made about our client E Jean Carroll in 2019.”
Trump is currently facing multiple pending court cases, including a civil fraud trial in New York, as well as criminal trials in D.C. over his efforts following the 2020 election, and in New York over a hush money payment. He faces a criminal trial in Florida in May over his handling of classified documents, as well as one in Georgia related to the election that does not yet have a scheduled date.