New York (diplomat.so) - Former U.S. President Donald Trump is slated to potentially testify on Monday in the ongoing defamation trial related to his 2019 comments about writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of sexual assault in the 1990s. The trial, resuming after a weekend break, is being closely watched, as Trump faces restrictions on the content of his testimony imposed by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan.
Last year, a separate jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll, prompting the current trial focused on defamation. Judge Kaplan has ruled that Trump cannot assert that Carroll fabricated her allegation or was driven by financial or political motives.
Despite the restrictions, the outspoken former president has not refrained from expressing his discontent with the trial. During Carroll's testimony last week, Trump was heard complaining to his lawyers about a "witch hunt" and a "con job." This led the judge to threaten removal from the courtroom, prompting Trump to lower his volume. However, he later held a news conference criticizing the proceedings and referring to the judge as "nasty."
In a recent civil business fraud trial, Trump similarly clashed with a judge, delivering a brief closing argument and receiving fines for violating a gag order. In Carroll's case, her legal team has urged the judge to ensure Trump understands and accepts the restrictions on his testimony before taking the stand.
With Trump concurrently dealing with four criminal cases, a civil fraud case, and Carroll's lawsuit, the timing of the trial coincides with the presidential primary season. Trump has used both court and campaign appearances to claim persecution by Democrats.
Following Monday's court session, Trump is expected to travel to a campaign event in New Hampshire. His court appearances have provided opportunities to amplify media coverage favorable to him while criticizing developments he opposes.
Notably, Trump attended the second trial, unlike the first one where he was awarded $5 million, a decision he is appealing. Carroll seeks over $10 million in damages in this separate trial due to the complexity of the legal proceedings.
While not obligated to attend or testify, Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, suggested his potential testimony could provide insights into his state of mind when making the controversial statements and how he corrected his initial denial after being confronted with a 1987 photo featuring him and Carroll.
The trial continues against the backdrop of Trump's dual roles in court and on the campaign trail, with implications for both his legal standing and political ambitions.