In a dramatic turn of events at a federal courthouse, former President Donald Trump faced a stern warning from U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. During a heated civil defamation trial on Wednesday, Trump's continual mutterings, including labeling the case a "witch hunt," prompted Kaplan to threaten his removal from the courtroom.
The tension escalated when E. Jean Carroll's attorney, Shawn Crowley, reported Trump's audible comments to the judge. Carroll, who has accused Trump of sexual assault and defamation, is seeking at least $10 million in damages.
This trial follows a previous one where Trump was ordered to pay $5 million for sexually abusing and defaming Carroll.
Trump's Courtroom Outbursts
Trump, who maintained a distance from the courtroom in the initial trial, marked his presence during the first two days of the current hearing.
His remarks during Carroll's testimony, echoing past statements about the case, led Kaplan to address him directly. "Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial," Kaplan said, highlighting Trump's apparent struggle to control his outbursts.
Adding to the courtroom drama, Trump's lawyer, Michael Madaio, unsuccessfully requested Kaplan's recusal, citing perceived bias and hostility. Kaplan, serving as a federal judge since 1994, swiftly denied the motion. The trial, laden with emotional testimony, saw Carroll describe the profound impact of Trump's derogatory comments.
She lamented how Trump's repeated public denials and insults transformed her identity from a respected writer to being labeled as a liar and a fraud. The jury was also presented with evidence of Carroll enduring a barrage of insulting and threatening messages on social media, a direct consequence of Trump's verbal attacks.
Trump's Defiant Stance
Despite the court's earlier ruling that Trump's comments about Carroll were defamatory, Trump has continued his onslaught on social media, dismissing the case as a hoax and attacking Kaplan. The defense attempted to portray Carroll as seeking publicity, questioning her about various media appearances and suggesting her enjoyment of the attention.
Carroll, however, stood firm, emphasizing her desire to encourage women to speak up. "It's not right to make women be quiet. It’s been going on for too long," she stated. As the trial progresses, it remains a significant legal and societal focal point, highlighting issues of defamation, the influence of powerful figures, and the enduring struggle for women's voices to be heard and respected.