Trump And His Lawyers In Chaos Mode As Second Carroll Defamation Trial Begins

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

As the second E. Jean Carroll trial kicks off this morning, Trump and his goons are back on their bullshit.

The former president made good on his promise to show up in court, for the first time since this case was filed more than four years ago, after promising to “explain I don’t know who the hell she is” on the witness stand — something which the court has already ruled he will not be permitted to do in light of the prior jury verdict that he did assault and defame Carroll.

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba is in fine form, pissing off Judge Lewis Kaplan even more than she has already through “dilatory” motions, bad faith claims, stunts, and general cussedness. Even before voir dire, Habba complained about excluded evidence and whined about the court’s refusal to postpone the case in light of the funeral Thursday for Melania Trump’s mother. That’s pretty ballsy for someone who got caught lying in her request for delay, suggesting to the court that Trump would be “traveling” Wednesday night, when in fact he’ll be at a rally in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Her associate Michael Madaio followed this up by complaining about a non-existent gag order, forcing the court to explain, as if to a small child, that banning the parties from discussing excluded evidence in the presence of jurors is not a gag. This may actually top the time Habba forced Judge Kaplan to explain the Erie doctrine to her in open court.

As for Trump, he is clearly aware that there is no gag order, since his account has been attacking Carroll all morning, in dozens of disgusting posts quoting sex advice she gave in her columns in an attempt to slut-shame an 80-year-old rape victim. Trump is bigly mad that he can’t tell the jurors that Carroll named her cat “Vagina,” along with a host of other irrelevancies. Presumably Trump’s lawyers have told him that this will be cited as proof that a large punitive damage award is necessary to stop Trump from continuing to defame her, and he simply doesn’t care.

He’s also extremely not gagged on the subject of the judge himself.

The only right, honest, and lawful thing that Clinton-appointed Judge Lewis Kaplan, who has so far been unable to see clearly because of his absolute hatred of Donald J. Trump (ME!), can do is to end this unAmerican injustice being done to a President of the United States, who was wrongfully accused by a woman he never met, saw, or touched (a photo line does not count!), and knows absolutely nothing about. I have been considered an A-List celebrity for many decades, so even decades ago, since no one knows which date or dates to refer to, because the accusing woman can’t say the day, month, season, year, or decade, it would have been impossible for me to walk into a crowded department store (surrounded by buildings I own), right opposite the cashiers’ checkout desk, without being written about on Page Six, and every other outlet at the time. Remember, those gossip columnists were, perhaps, even more vicious and obsessed than the Internet of today.

Back in November, Judge Kaplan ordered that the jurors be anonymous, alluding to Trump’s long history of targeting his opponents online.

“In view of Mr. Trump’s repeated public statements with respect to the plaintiff and court in this case as well as in other cases against him, and the extensive media coverage that this case already has received and that is likely to increase once the trial is imminent or underway,” he wrote.

Perhaps mindful that the jurors lack the protection of federal marshals, Judge Kaplan took the additional step this morning of urging them to use fake names even with each other for their own safety.

As of now, Trump appears to be reserving his venom for Carroll, her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, and the court itself. But Carroll’s longtime friend Carol Martin, a former CBS news anchor in New York, seems likely to be heading for a bad week, too.

In the first trial, Martin testified as an outcry witness, confirming that Carroll told her about the sexual assault when it happened, Here, the assault is no longer at issue as the jurors have already been instructed to treat it as the law of the case. Instead, Trump’s team wants to call her to prove its thesis that Carroll was not damaged by Trump’s defamatory statements, and that she in fact “wanted (and expected) to receive a significant amount of attention in connection with her accusation, thereby reducing the likelihood that she suffered mental distress due to the amount of attention she ultimately did receive.” In particular, they want to introduce texts from Martin where she talks about how happy Carroll is with the media attention she got after making her claims.

On Saturday, the court excluded some of Carroll’s own messages to her lawyers about promoting her book, but refused to unequivocally exclude Martin as a witness, noting that “Whether any particular testimony that either party may seek to elicit from her would be admissible, however, is a matter for decision at trial in the event she actually is called and one or more objections is interposed.”

That promises to be a contentious issue going forward.

But not as contentious as Trump’s own potential testimony, in which he threatens to repeat his performance at the New York Supreme Court in which he defied a court order and made repeated references to excluded evidence and attacked the judge and the prosecutor. But Judge Kaplan is not Justice Engoron, and it seems pretty clear that the outcome would not be the same here.

And, in a feat of excellent comic timing, the Second Circuit mandate issued this morning after Trump’s doomed petition to dismiss on grounds of presidential immunity was denied a rehearing en banc.

Be there, will be wild.

Carroll v. Trump I [Docket via Court Listener]
Carroll v. Trump II [Docket via Court Listener]

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes the Law and Chaos substack and appears on the Opening Arguments podcast.

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