New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman said former President Trump is using his legal woes to benefit his reelection campaign, including making an appearance at author E. Jean Carroll’s defamation trial this week.
“I mean, he has melded his legal cases and his political campaign so they are indistinguishable,” she told CNN’s King Charles co-hosts Gayle King and Charles Barkley. “He fundraises all the legal cases.”
Haberman, who wrote the book “Confidence Man: The Making of Donald Trump and Breaking of America,” suggested Trump arriving to the civil case was more about gaining support than actual trial.
“This was a civil case. He didn’t have to be there today. He chose to be there,” she argued in the interview, highlighted by Mediaite. “This is not a criminal trial where he would have to be in court.”
“But most of his supporters don’t know the difference,” Haberman continued. “They don’t hear the difference. They just hear noise that he’s under fire and they tune in that way and they give him money that way.”
She added, “And so, he is really leaning into this because he has learned the lesson that there is a benefit to him, politically.”
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Trump, the current front-runner in the 2024 GOP presidential primary, made a point of taking a hiatus from the campaign trail in order to show up to the trial in New York. He was also almost thrown out of the courtroom by Judge Robert Kaplan for being “disruptive.”
The defamation trial comes months after Trump was found liable for sexual battery after Carroll accused him of raping her in the 1990s. He was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million in damages, though he has denied wrongdoing.
In the ongoing trial, over allegations the author made in 2019, Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages for his denials.
Haberman argued that Trump wanted to take the spotlight away from the actual case and back on him.
“In this case, he showed up for her testimony and so instead of us talking about her testimony, we’re talking about the fact that he was making noises,” Haberman argued.
Though Trump didn’t get thrown out of the trial, she claimed the former president actually would have liked to have been, “because he would then claim he was a victim.”