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Trump testifies in E. Jean Carroll defamation trial

Former President Donald Trump briefly took the stand in a federal courtroom in New York City on Thursday afternoon to defend himself in the defamation damages case brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

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The trial is focused on determining how much the former president will have to pay for statements he made about Carroll in 2019, after she went public with allegations that Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s at a luxury department store in New York City. Last year, a jury found him liable for sexually abusing Carroll and defaming her in separate statements made in 2022.

Closing arguments begin Friday

Update 2:30 p.m. EST Jan. 15: Trump was the final person to offer testimony Thursday before court recessed for the evening, according to NBC News.

The trial will resume Friday at 9:30 a.m. with closing arguments, the news network reported.

Trump testifies that he didn’t intent to harm Carroll

Update 2:25 p.m. EST Jan. 15: Trump was sworn in Thursday afternoon to testify in his own defense in his second defamation trial involving Carroll.

His appearance on the stand was brief. Trump denied the allegations made by Carroll, although his comment was stricken from the record as U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan previously said the former president could not re-litigate the case, NBC News reported.

He said that he hadn’t meant to hurt Carroll with comments he made in 2019 denying that he had sexually assaulted her.

“I just wanted to defend myself, my family and frankly the presidency,” he said, according to CNN.

Trump to testify in his own defense, attorney says

Update 2:15 p.m. EST Jan. 15: Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said she will call him as a witness on Thursday, according to CNN.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan first asked Habba to share the questions she plans to ask her client, NBC News reported. Trump interrupted his attorney to say, “I don’t know who the woman is. I never met this woman,” according to The Washington Post.

Original report: An attorney for Trump said in court on Monday that he planned to testify before court was adjourned due to a sick juror and possible COVID-19 exposure. Attorneys for Carroll are expected to finish calling witnesses on Thursday, and Trump could testify afterward in his defense, Reuters reported.

Trump is not required to give testimony in the civil case, which is focused on determining how much he will need to pay Carroll for defamatory statements he made about her in 2019.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan earlier ruled that the statements, which came after Carroll publicly accused Trump of sexual assault in an excerpt from her then-forthcoming memoir, were defamatory.

Last year, a jury found Trump liable for defaming Carroll in similar statements made in 2022. Jurors also found him liable for sexually abusing her during a run-in at a luxury department store in New York City in the 1990s.

Trump has denied any wrongdoing, insisting that he did not know Carroll and that she made up her allegations to sell copies of her book.

Carroll testified last week that Trump’s attacks on her destroyed the reputation she built over decades working in magazine publishing, CNN reported.

“Previously I was known simply as a journalist and had a column and now I’m known as the ‘liar,’ the ‘fraud’ and the ‘whack job,’” she said, repeating names Trump often used to label her, according to The Washington Post.

Kaplan earlier said that if Trump takes the stand, he cannot dispute Carroll’s version of events, The New York Times reported. Kaplan and Trump clashed in court last week after an attorney for Carroll complained that the former president could be heard calling the case a “witch hunt” and claiming that “it was a con job” from the defense table, according to the newspaper.

Last year, jurors awarded Carroll $5 million in damages. Trump has appealed the ruling.

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