Trump Disrupts E. Jean Carroll’s Testimony, Calls Judge ‘Nasty Guy’
No one expected the former president to be well-behaved during the latest defamation trial between him and Carroll. But this was… wow!
On Wednesday morning, a New York jury convened to hear testimony from E. Jean Carroll, a writer who accused former President Trump of raping her in a dressing room in the 1990s. The jury will decide how much Trump owes Carroll in damages for defaming her by calling her a liar in 2019 while he was president. This latest trial comes after Trump was already found liable in May for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll over comments from 2022, incurring a $5 million verdict. Trump was in attendance Wednesday for Carroll’s testimony, though he did not testify, and his presence in the courtroom was about as bitter and disruptive as you’d expect. Just as the trial picked up after a lunch break, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan threatened to have Trump removed.
NBC reports that Trump was “vocal throughout Carroll’s testimony so far, even slamming the table in anger at one point.” When Kaplan directed Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, to sit down, Trump could be heard calling Kaplan a “nasty guy.” Trump has also reportedly been complaining loudly, saying “Carroll’s statements are false,” calling the trial a “witch hunt,” angrily shaking his head, and making disparaging comments like “now she seems to have gotten her memory back” throughout her testimony—all while sitting within earshot of the jury.
A few hours into the trial, after a lunch break, Kaplan stated, “Mr. Trump has the right to be present here. That right can be forfeited, and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive and if he disregards court orders.” He then addressed Trump directly: “Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial. I understand you are very eager for me to do that.” Trump responded, “I would love it. I would love it.”
“I know you would because you just can’t control yourself in this circumstance. You just can’t,” Kaplan returned. NBC reports that “an exasperated Trump” then “threw his hands in the air.” Shortly after Kaplan threatened to have Trump removed, the former president posted about the exchange on Truth Social, diagnosing Kaplan with “a major case of Trump Derangement Syndrome.” (It was one of dozens of posts he’s made about this trial on the platform over the last few days alone.) He wrote, “I feel an obligation to be at every moment of this ridiculous trial because we have a seething and hostile Clinton-appointed Judge, Lewis Kaplan… I should have gone, if for no other reason than to witness and speak up against the abuse carried out by this Judge.”
All of this is pretty standard behavior from Trump, who characterizes any amount of accountability for his actions as a “witch hunt” and famously relishes a good social media takedown. We also know he loves the word “nasty,” so that was a cute throwback! But at some point, you have to wonder what the end goal is. The man is shooting himself in the foot by going after the literal judge presiding over his case and generally being an asshole in front of a New York jury.
Trump’s attorney, Habba, and Kapalan also seemed to butt heads over Habba’s questions about Carroll’s past, asking her about her comments from a previous deposition which wasn’t submitted to the court as evidence: “We are going to do it my way in the courtroom, and that is all there is to it,” Kaplan told Habba. Shortly after this exchange, Habba called for a mistrial because Carroll said she’d deleted death threats she received from Trump supporters and couldn’t provide them. As you’d expect, Kaplan denied Habba’s bonkers demand.
None of this bickering and the perpetual nastiness and immaturity of a 77-year-old man should detract from the important testimony Carroll provided Wednesday on the severe trauma and reputational damage she accuses Trump of inflicting on her. “To have the president of the United States, one of the most powerful persons on earth, call me a liar for three days and say it 26 times—I counted them—it ended the world I had been living in, and I lived in a new world,” Carroll said.
She testified that she still receives hateful and frightening messages from Trump’s supporters to this day, accusing her of being a liar or disparaging her appearance, as Trump himself did. The former president famously claimed Carroll was lying because she wasn’t his “type,” implying rape is about sex and attraction rather than power and abuse. “I’ve paid just about as dearly as it’s possible to pay,” Carroll said of the cost to her reputation from Trump’s comments about her.
In May, the jury found Trump civilly liable for the sexual abuse and defamation of Carroll within three hours of deliberation. He’s continued to deny the allegations, and at the time posted on Truth Social minutes after the verdict, “I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHO THIS WOMAN IS. THIS VERDICT IS. DISGRACE. A CONTINUATION OF THE GREATEST WITCH HUNT OF ALL TIME!” If Wednesday’s events are any indicator, it looks like Trump is taking this same all-caps outlook to the courtroom this week.