Trump Cut Short in E. Jean Carroll’s Defamation Case, Judge Orders ‘Keep Your Voice Down’

In an unusual courtroom scenario, Donald Trump found himself with just a few minutes to testify in E. Jean Carroll’s active defamation case against him.

Silent Witness

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It’s been a rare occasion where so many — journalists, legal experts, and the general public — have waited with such anticipation, only to hear Donald Trump deliver so few words. 

Facing the Microphone

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At the second E. Jean Carroll defamation trial in the Manhattan federal court on Thursday, Trump, the leading Republican, faced the microphone on the witness stand.

Under Judicial Scrutiny

Former US President Donald Trump sits in New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization, in New York City on January 11, 2024. Trump's legal team will deliver closing arguments January 11 in the fraud case after the judge barred the former president from using the trial finale as an election campaign grandstand. (Photo by Peter Foley / POOL / AFP)

Image by Peter Foley / POOL / AFP

The judge, known for maintaining strict control, allowed Trump just four questions during his direct testimony, limiting his time on the stand to roughly three minutes. This included a brief period for cross-examination and re-direct. 

Sticking to His Story

Former US President Donald Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba (front), leaves Trump Tower for Manhattan federal court for the second defamation trial against him, in New York City on January 17, 2024. Writer E. Jean Carroll is seeking more than $10 million in damages in the civil trial, alleging that Trump defamed her in 2019 when he was president and she had just come out with her allegation, saying she "is not my type." This is separate to a civil case last year where another New York jury found Trump liable for sexually assaulting Carroll in a department store dressing room in 1996 and subsequently defaming her in 2022, when he called her a "complete con job." (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP)

Image by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP

Upon taking the stand and swearing in, Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, questioned him about his adherence to his October 19, 2022 deposition statements. Earlier that day, the jury heard parts of this deposition, where Trump refuted Carroll’s rape accusations, stating she was ‘not my type.’ 

Trump confirmed this with a ‘100% yes,’ his voice blending assurance and displeasure. 

Interrupted Answers

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When Habba asked her second question, inquiring why Trump denied Carroll’s allegations during his deposition, Trump began to answer, “Yes. She said something I considered a false accusation—”

But was interrupted. US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, overseeing the trial and also the 2023 rape defamation case with a $5 million verdict, struck the rest of his statement.

Trump’s Cut-Short Defense

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Similarly, the judge interrupted Trump’s answer to Habba’s third question, which asked if he intended to ‘hurt’ Carroll in June 2019. Carroll’s lawyers argue that Trump’s actions led to her defamation by his supporters, demanding substantial financial compensation. 

Restricted Replies in Court

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Trump’s response, ‘No. I just wanted to defend myself and my family and, frankly, the presidency,’ was again cut short, with all remarks following ‘No’ being excluded from the record.

Off-Record Outbursts

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Trump, unable to express his side on the stand, took the opportunity outside the jury’s earshot to vehemently declare his innocence and express his frustrations, lamenting, ‘This is not America.’

Repeated Statements

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Trump did this on multiple occasions. Three separate times – twice before and once after his testimony – he vocally expressed his dissatisfaction with the treatment he received from both Carroll and the legal system, all unheard by the jurors. 

Lawyer Catches Trump’s Mutter

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After lunch, Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, pointed out to the judge Trump’s barely audible comment about defying the judge’s limits and maintaining his denial of sexual assault. 

Capturing Under-Breath Remarks

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Lawyer Kaplan said, “Mr. Trump said under his breath that he will still deny it.” As Trump’s lead lawyer, Alina Habba, attempted to interject, the judge promptly silenced her. 

“If I may, your honor—” Habba began, and the judge quickly told her she “may not.”

Trump’s Outburst Pre-Testimony

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Moments before his testimony, with the jury still absent, Trump couldn’t help but exclaim, “I never met the woman! I do not know who the woman is!”

The judge had to intervene, saying “Mr. Trump, Keep your voice down.”

Limited Questioning

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Roberta Kaplan, with no relation to Judge Kaplan, also faced restrictions in her cross-examination of Trump, limited to a specific number of questions. During this cross-examination, Trump acknowledged that he did not attend Carroll’s trial against him last spring. 

Pouting and Head Shaking

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In that trial, the jury unanimously concluded that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll in the mid-1990s, resulting in a verdict of liability for sexual abuse and defamation, and an award of $5 million to Carroll. 

During Kaplan’s line of questioning, Trump’s demeanor included shaking his head and conspicuously pouting.

Past Verdict

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In the second lawsuit trial, including defamation claims post-presidency, the judge applied ‘collateral estoppel,’ affirming the previous trial’s findings as binding. This established Trump’s liability for defaming Carroll in 2019, focusing the trial solely on damages. 

Maintaining Innocence

(FILES) Former US President Donald Trump sits in the New York State Supreme Court during the civil fraud trial against the Trump Organization in New York on December 7, 2023. New York's attorney general is seeking $370 million from former president Donald Trump in a fraud case which has seen the real estate mogul accused of inflating the value of his properties, court documents showed on January 5, 2024. Trump, the frontrunner for the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, and his two eldest sons are accused of fraudulently inflating the value of real estate assets to receive more favorable bank loans and insurance terms. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / POOL / AFP)

Image by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez / POOL / AFP

Consequently, Trump’s legal defense couldn’t argue Carroll’s dishonesty in court, despite his public denials and social media posts claiming ignorance of Carroll, contradicting earlier photographs and a federal court’s verdict. 

No Do-Overs for Trump

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Before his testimony, the judge reminded Trump that the prior verdict was final, with no chance for a ‘do-over.’ The judge closely monitored Trump’s testimony through Habba to ensure adherence to the trial’s scope, although the latter admitted she didn’t have a ‘crystal ball.’

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