NEW YORK: Fresh off a campaign victory in Iowa, Donald Trump sat in a New York courtroom on Tuesday (Jan 16) to defend himself for a second time against charges that he defamed writer E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of raping her decades ago.
Trump watched from the defendant’s table as a nine-person jury was chosen for a civil case that will put allegations of misconduct back in the headlines while he pursues the 2024 Republican presidential nomination.
Trump sat two tables behind Carroll, who is accusing Trump of defaming her in 2019 by denying he had attacked her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan. Carroll, 80, is seeking at least $10 million in damages.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan told prospective jurors they would only have to consider how much Trump should pay Carroll in damages, not whether the alleged assault took place or whether Trump lied about it afterwards. He said the trial is expected to last three to five days. Trump, 77, has said he wants to testify at the civil trial.
MULTIPLE TRUMP CASES IN 2024
He could spend much of this year shuttling between campaign rallies and courtrooms, as he seeks to win the Republican presidential nomination for 2024.
He won the first state contest in Iowa on Monday by a wide margin, and opinion polls show him leading in the next contest in New Hampshire a week from today.
Trump has pleaded not guilty in four criminal cases that could potentially land him in prison before the November presidential election, including two that accuse him of trying to overturn his 2020 loss to Democrat Joe Biden. He also is a defendant in at least two other civil cases.
Trump has cast himself as the victim of political persecution. On Tuesday, he said Kaplan should dismiss the case.
“Judge Kaplan should put this whole corrupt, Crooked Joe Biden-directed Election Interference attack on me immediately to rest,” he posted on social media. “He should do it for America.”
Trump’s high profile was apparent as prospective jurors were screened for the case. Many acknowledged they were familiar with Trump’s various legal troubles, though none said they knew the details of the first defamation trial.
Many said they had backed Democratic candidates in previous elections, reflecting the New York City area’s left-leaning tilt, and one said she had volunteered for Biden’s 2020 campaign.
Two others said they believed Trump’s false claims that the election had been stolen from him. One said she used to work for his daughter Ivanka. They were not chosen for the jury.
Jurors’ identities are being kept confidential.