New York

Trump’s Next Defamation Trial Will Skip to What Damages He Should Hisse

A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the writer E. Jean Carroll, who won a recent defamation lawsuit against former President Donald J. Trump, doesn’t have to prove again that he defamed her in another lawsuit she has filed against him when it goes to trial in January.

She must show only what damages, if any, Mr. Trump must pay for comments he made in 2019 after she first publicly accused him of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room decades ago. Mr. Trump called her accusation “totally false,” said he had never met Ms. Carroll and that he could not have raped her because “she’s not my type.”

Ms. Carroll, 79, won a separate defamation lawsuit in May based on comments Mr. Trump posted last October on his Truth Social website calling her claim a “complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie.”

In that case, a Manhattan jury found Mr. Trump, 77, liable for sexually abusing Ms. Carroll and awarded her $2.02 million in damages for the attack. Jurors also awarded Ms. Carroll $2.98 million in damages for defamation.

The judge, Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court, said in his ruling Wednesday that Mr. Trump’s statements in 2019 were “substantially the same” as those that prompted the defamation award in May.

“The trial in this case shall be limited to the issue of damages only,” Judge Kaplan wrote.

Lawyers for Ms. Carroll and Mr. Trump issued brief statements after the ruling was filed.

Ms. Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, said, “We look forward to trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made about our client E. Jean Carroll in 2019.”

Alina Habba, who represents Mr. Trump, said she was confident the earlier verdict “will be overturned on appeal, which will render this decision moot.”

Mr. Trump has also asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit to delay the pending defamation trial, which is scheduled for Jan. 15, until an appeal by Mr. Trump related to the case is resolved.

Ms. Carroll opposes any delay, and the appeals court has scheduled oral arguments on the issue for Tuesday.

Ms. Carroll first publicly leveled her accusation against Mr. Trump in a 2019 book excerpt in New York magazine. She said he had pushed her up against a dressing room wall during a mid-1990s encounter in the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman. She said he had pulled down her tights, opened his pants and forced himself upon her.

If Ms. Carroll’s defamation case goes to trial in January, it would open a year in which Mr. Trump could also be tried on criminal indictments in Georgia, Florida, New York and Washington. Legal experts say that he almost certainly will have to attend the criminal trials, but that he does not have to attend the civil trial.

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