Donald Trump’s Defense in E. Jean Carroll Case Could Be About to Implode


Donald Trump’s attempts to mount a defense in his upcoming damages trial involving writer E. Jean Carroll could be in trouble, as her legal team has asked a judge to prevent him from further stating that he did not sexually assault her.

Carroll, a longtime journalist and one-time columnist for Elle, has over the years accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a New York City department store changing room in the mid-1990s. She recently filed multiple civil defamation lawsuits against the former president after he said her stories about him were not true.

In May, a New York City jury ruled that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll and was civilly liable for defamation against her to the tune of $5 million in damages, but it rejected her allegation of rape. Despite this ruling, Trump has continued to assert that he did not assault or abuse Carroll and has at times said he has no idea who she is.

The jury’s ruling came in a suit filed in 2022, after Trump had left the White House. Carroll had also filed a civil defamation suit pertaining to statements he made in June 2019, while he was still president.

In early September, federal Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Trump’s 2019 comments against Carroll were defamatory, reasoning that their “substantive content” was the same as the comments at the heart of the 2022 suit, which had already been litigated. A damages trial is now set for January.

Donald Trump arrives on August 3 at Virginia’s Reagan National Airport following an arraignment in a Washington, D.C., court. In a separate case, the former president’s hopes of mounting a defense against writer E. Jean Carroll in a damages trial could be in jeopardy after a recent filing by her defense team.
Getty Images/Tasos Katopodis

On Monday, Carroll’s legal team filed a motion asking Kaplan to bar Trump’s defense team from making any claims, or submitting any evidence, in the trial that reflect his allegations that he did not abuse her, which they argue is a settled matter since the jury ruling in May. Further evidence pertaining to whether or not the abuse happened, her lawyers argue, is irrelevant to the scope of the coming trial.

“The damages issues in this case relate to Trump’s June 2019 defamatory statements, not whether there is physical evidence that serves as further proof that Trump sexually assaulted Carroll,” the filing reads. “While it is Trump’s right to submit to questioning, he does not have the right to say whatever he pleases.”

The briefing went on to suggest which arguments Trump and his team should be barred from making, given prior legal results. The briefing asked that they not be allowed to “claim that he did not sexually assault Carroll; argue that he was telling the truth in his statements about her; suggest that Carroll fabricated her account due to a political agenda, financial interests, or mental illness; or offer any other testimony that would be inconsistent with the Court’s collateral estoppel decision determining that Trump, with actual malice, lied about sexually assaulting Carroll.”

Newsweek reached out to Trump’s office by email for comment.

David Aronberg, a legal expert and state attorney in Florida, told Newsweek that it is likely Kaplan will grant Carroll’s request, which will be highly detrimental to Trump’s chances of a favorable outcome in the case.

“I think the judge will likely grant E. Jean Carroll’s motion to prevent Trump from re-litigating issues that were already decided in the previous trial,” Aronberg said.

“In legal terms, it’s called ‘collateral estoppel,’ which means that Trump has already been found to have lied about sexually assaulting Carroll and that decision carries over into this next trial,” he said. “If Carroll wins her motion, as I expect she will, it means that Trump’s chances of winning at trial are reduced to slim and none.”