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Trump awaits Carroll verdict after fiery closing arguments

Trump awaits Carroll verdict after fiery closing arguments

NEW YORK — The jury has begun deliberations Friday in former President Trump’s defamation case brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll after fervent closing arguments that saw Trump at one point storm out of the courtroom.

Trump and his lawyers repeatedly showed visible frustration, often shaking their heads as the judge overruled their various objections to portions of the other side’s argument.

When Carroll’s lead attorney, Roberta Kaplan, addressed the jurors, she urged them to award more than $24 million in damages, saying Trump’s denials of sexually assaulting the columnist “shattered E. Jean Carroll’s reputation.”

“Being infamous is different than being famous,” Kaplan said.

About 10 minutes into Kaplan’s argument, Trump suddenly stood up and walked out of the courtroom. He did not return for more than an hour, until his own lawyer began her argument.

Carroll is suing Trump for defamation over two statements he made in June 2019 denying the columnist’s story when she came first forward to accuse Trump of having assaulted her decades earlier.

Trump was found liable at a previous trial for sexually abusing Carroll, a finding that has made Trump automatically liable in the current case. The jury is only weighing how much Trump must pay.

“Now is the time to make him pay for it, and now is the time to make him pay for it dearly,” Kaplan concluded.

Trump frequently made comments to his lawyers during the other side’s argument but faced toward his own lawyer when she took the lectern.

Meanwhile, Carroll, who was seated in front of Trump close to the judge’s bench, turned to look back toward the lectern at times when her lawyers were arguing. When it became Trump’s turn, however, Carroll’s directed her gaze straight ahead.

Alina Habba, Trump’s lead attorney, attempted to persuade the jury that Carroll could not meet her burden of showing a causal link between Trump’s denials and the emotional and reputational harms the columnist claims to have suffered.

Much of Habba’s contention focused on a roughly five-hour gap between when Carroll’s accusation surfaced publicly in a New York magazine article and when Trump issued the first defamatory statement at issue in the case.

“That was some rendition of the facts,” Habba began her closing argument.

Days of antagonistic interactions between Habba and U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, an appointee of former President Clinton who is overseeing the trial, escalated Friday, with Habba repeatedly trying to continue arguing after Kaplan had ruled against her on various objections.

At one point, after the judge forbade Trump’s team from showing jurors a slide displaying tweets people directed at Carroll before the then-president’s statements, Habba proceeded to argue, saying she needed to make a record of her point.

“You are on the verge of spending some time in the lockup,” said Kaplan, who is not related to Carroll’s lawyer.

At another moment, when Habba was discussing threats sent to Carroll, Habba noted that she, too, had received threats during the trial. The judge scolded her, telling Habba the comment was “inappropriate.”

During her argument, she went on to suggest that Carroll came forward in 2019 for financial gain and attention, claiming the columnist “loves her new reputation.”

“Ms. Carroll is a journalist. Her friends do TV. She knew what she was doing,” Habba said.

The jury of nine New Yorkers — two women and seven men — retired to their deliberations shortly before 2 p.m. EST.

The judge said that, if the deliberations go past 4:30 p.m. EST, they will resume Monday, unless the jury desires to continue into the evening.

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