Trump defamation accuser Carroll resumes trial testimony

By Luc Cohen and Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK (Reuters) -The writer who accused Donald Trumpof shattering her reputation by denying he assaulted her nearly three decades ago resumed testifying on Thursday at a civil trial to determine how much the former U.S. president owes in damages.

E. Jean Carroll, 80, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, testified on Wednesday that Trump’s lies destroyed her reputation for telling the truth and exposed her to online attacks that persist. She was expected to complete her testimony on Thursday.

Carroll is facing additional questioning on Thursday from Alina Habba, one of Trump’s lawyers, in federal court in Manhattan before U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan.

Others expected to testify at the trial include a former Elle editor-in-chief and a Northwestern University professor who may help jurors quantify how much Trump should pay.

Trump, 77, has said he wants to testify, and could do so next week.

Unlike on Wednesday, Trump was not in court on Thursday. He has said he wanted to skip Thursday’s trial session to attend his mother-in-law’s funeral in Florida. He need not attend the trial because his lawyers are present.

In overnight posts on his Truth Social website, Trump referred to Carroll’s having testified that she threw out some emails from people who criticized her coming forward, and that she owned an unlicensed gun she inherited from her father.

“Now that E. Jean Carroll has admitted to illegally deleting and destroying mountains of evidence (as well as, it seems, unlawfully owning a gun and buying ammunition!), if Judge Lewis Kaplan does the right and PATRIOTIC thing, he will immediately dismiss the current Election Interfering Witch Hunt Trial,” Trump wrote.

Trump, a Republican, has used his legal travails to rally supporters and raise funds for his 2024 White House run.

Trump has pleaded not guilty in four state and federal criminal cases, including two claiming that he tried to overturn his 2020 election loss to Democrat Joe Biden.

Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages from Trump, saying he lied in 2019 when as U.S. president he denied having attacked her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.

Last May, a jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million, finding he had sexually abused her, and then defamed her in 2022 by denying that anything happened.

Kaplan, who oversees both cases, has ruled that Trump sexually abused Carroll by forcing his fingers into her vagina, and defamed her in 2019. The job of the nine-person jury in the current case is to decide damages.

Habba has tried to show during cross-examination that Carroll was already being attacked online before Trump spoke up, and that Carroll welcomed the fame and attention from having gone public.

During a break in Wednesday’s trial, Kaplan warned Trump he might be ejected from the trial if he kept making comments that the jury could hear.

Carroll’s lawyers had said they could hear Trump calling the case a “witch hunt” and “con job.”

Trump had skipped Carroll’s first trial.

(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel and Luc Cohen in New York; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Noeleen Walder, Leslie Adler and Jonathan Oatis)