Observations On The Trump Defamation and Rape Civil Trial Verdict [Updated]

Former President Donald Trump has been found liable in the rape and defamation civil suit brought by Jean E. Carroll’s civil suit, and Carroll is to be awarded a total of $5 million in damages. This was not a criminal case, because the statute of limitations for rape had run: the alleged sexual assault occurred in 1995 or 1996.

A federal jury of six men and three women found that Carroll, now 79, had proved by a preponderance of the evidence that Mr. Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan. The jury did not, however, find that Trump raped her, as she claims.

But because the former President on his Truth Social platform called her case “a complete con job” and “a Hoax and a lie,” the jury also found that he had defamed the plaintiff. His lawyer said he would appeal; no witnesses were called on behalf of Trump’s defense.

The ex-President’s reaction was characteristic:

Ethics observations:

  • I have no doubts that the maturation of the incident, whatever happened, into this lawsuit was politically motivated in one way or another. That does not mean that the assault didn’t happen, but that the victim of it, either on her own or with some persuasion, came to regard it in a different light after the passage of time and Trump’s gradual metamorphosis from an attractive  celebrity billionaire into a reviled Republican politician. (This is the observation that got me blackballed from NPR, incidentally.) Reportedly, George Conway, the Lincoln Project’s Never-Trumper, was involved in urging Carroll to raise the nearly 30-year-old encounter.
  • Trump’s big metaphorical mouth on social media came back to bite him. The statement in October calling Carroll a liar was virtually asking for a defamation suit.
  • Based on reports, I would think there is ample basis for an appeal. The “Access Hollywood” tape in which Trump boasted to host Billy Bush about the joys of grabbing random women “by the pussy” was the main evidence against him. There were no witnesses to the alleged assault: Carroll couldn’t even settle on the exact year. The judge permitted Carroll’s lawyers to play the tape for the jury during the testimony of Natasha Stoynoff, who emotionally described  an incident in which, she claimed, Trump pushed her into an empty Mar-a-Lago room and forcibly kissed and pressed against her. Then they called Jessica Leeds, who claims Trump assaulted her in the small first-class cabin of an airplane, groping her and reaching up her skirt.
  • The pro-Trump spin on the verdict is that, as one conservative blog put it, a Manhattan jury convicted him “because he’s Donald Trump and a New York jury wasn’t going to let him off the hook.” However, it is still a jury verdict after a trial before a judge, and as Americans, we should give it due weight. Conservative entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy said in a statement, “I’ll say what everyone else is privately thinking: if the defendant weren’t named Donald Trump, would we be talking about this today, would there even be a lawsuit?” Probably not. But that framing  ducks the real issue.
  • Personally, I regard it as more likely than not that Trump has engaged in what would legally constitute sexual assault, and sometimes with women he barely knew. Men of a certain level of wealth, celebrity and power have counted on the King’s Pass to indulge themselves in this manner for centuries. Though, as Andrew McCarthy recently observed, nothing like this trial has ever happened “to a significant candidate for the presidency, let alone to a former President,” there is a lot of evidence that former Presidents have engaged in similar behavior, among them Grover Cleveland, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and, of course, Bill Clinton. They, and probably others, were just able to get away with it for assorted reasons.
  • Do recall that when Ivana Trump suggested in her autobiography that her ex-husband would force her to have sex, one of the defenses his slimy “fixer,” now-disbarred lawyer Michael Cohen, offered the media was that a husband couldn’t commit rape against his own wife. That’s 19th Century law,  but the fact that Trump’s long-time lawyer would say that tells me what kind of attitudes his client held, and still holds.
  • We should live in a culture in which a verdict like this to automatically precludes an individual from being a viable Presidential candidate. Thanks to Kennedy, Clinton, Biden, Trump and other ethics corrupters, we don’t.  A poll released last week found that 18% of the majority of American voters who believe  Donald Trump should be held criminally accountable for attempting to overturn the 2020 election still said they would vote for Trump over Joe Biden anyway. I don’t comprehend that kind of thinking at all, and, frankly, it makes me want to give up ethics and become a beachcomber.
  • The New York Times  says, “There is no world in which the result of that civil trial was a positive development for the project he is most focused on: the presidential campaign for which he remains the Republican front-runner.” Well, not if they can help it, but the Times may be wrong about that. Trump and others have so degraded the public’s standards for leadership that I don’t think anyone can be certain about what world we live in now.
  • The Trump campaign’s response in part: “In jurisdictions wholly controlled by the Democratic Party our nation’s justice system is now compromised by extremist left-wing politics.” I think that is substantially true: the conviction of Derek Chauvin certainly pointed to that conclusion, as does the indictment of Trump for paying off Stormy Daniels. It does not mean, however, that the jury in this case reached the wrong verdict.

UPDATE: Here is the verdict sheet from the jury.

44 thoughts on “Observations On The Trump Defamation and Rape Civil Trial Verdict [Updated]

  1. Carroll couldn’t even settle on the exact year.

    That, by itself, should have been reason enough to find in favor of Trump.

    Obviously, even in criminal cases, the exact microsecond is almost never required. But at least the accuser should be able to narrow it down to a specific year.

    Now, if someone said, “I saw Jack Marshall stab a girl and throw her off Boulder Bridge in Rock Creek park sometimes in the 1990′.”, the police would and should compare with a list of girls who were reported missing, who were found dead around Boulder Bridge or downstream, or who actually reported being stabbed by an unknown assailant and thrown off Boulder Bridge, during the 1990’s.

    But a judge should not issue a search warrant arising from this unless investigators at least narrow down the year in which this alleged incident took place.

    • That bothers me, too. If such a thing had happened to me, I can guarantee you that I would not only have the year, but also the date and probably the hour embedded in my mind for an eternity.

    • This is one of the big reasons we have statutes of limitations.

      Witnesses die.

      Witnesses forget.

      And, it is unfair to have to defend against such an amorphous allegation. It prevents the accused from even being able to formulate an alibi (and I bet Trump would have the ability to establish what he has done on particular days going back decades, if he needed to).


      • Exactly, Jut. This case was an improper end run around the statute of limitations. Just as Bragg’s case is a bootstrapping of a federal misdemeanor into a state felony charge. This is abuse of process.

        I can tell you exactly when in 1973 my college girlfriend was raped by a professor of ours. The date and location.

        Next thing we know, people will be prosecuted for perjury for saying “I didn’t do it.”

        • Please, yes.

          My dad told my sister and I he was leaving my mom on the morning of 9/12/1985 right before we left for school.
          My brother accidentally set fire to our house on 3/12/1988 around 6:30 PM
          On 9/11/2001, I was trying a new route to work via 16th St in Indianapolis instead of 10th St (it wasn’t a better route) when I heard about the first plane crash into the Tower.

          You don’t forget stuff like that.

      • What is interesting is that NY changed the statute of limitations on Thanksgiving 2022 and set to sunset in The same day one year later at the behest of the plaintiffs lawyer.
        It strikes me that this is the equivalent of an ex post facto law that would harm Trump when such a claim would have been otherwise barred statutorily.

  2. To me, this is the same logic police use when fabricating evidence to frame suspects. “Well, he is a career burglar. He may not have committed THIS burglary, but I’m sure he got away with committing a bunch of burglaries in the past, so this just helps even things out.” This is how we got the Fred Zain scandal, the Joyce Gilchrest scandal, the FBI crime lab scandal, etc. This was the justification the NYC police detectives gave after it was found they were bringing suspects in for questioning, lifting fingerprints from the questioning area, and admitting them as evidence from the scene of the crime.

    Was there even any actual evidence that a crime occurred? I mean, I could say that Donald Trump molested ME in 1978 on a trip to Philadelphia. It didn’t happen, but I think I have about as much ‘evidence’ as this woman. Men in this country are already at great risk from false accusations of sexual assault and this and the Kavanaugh accusations took the bar from requiring little evidence to no evidence at all. And no, a story her therapist told her that she said under hypnosis should not count as evidence. We are back to Rosanne Barr accusing her father of molesting her as a baby because a therapist said so.

    This verdict is even more dangerous than that. We have a history of the leftist press ‘disqualifying’ viable Republican presidential candidates because they were a substantial threat to the Democratic candidate. This just gives them an automatic veto of any candidate that could be president. It isn’t like we eliminated a Republican frontrunner because someone said that his family rented a property when he was a child that may have had a word spray-painted on a rock that some people might misunderstand as a racial slur. If you don’t think the media can find (or pay) at least 5 women to make accusations of rape against ANY major Republican candidate and find a New York (or Chicago, or San Francisco…) jury to convict under civil trial rules, you are crazy. Would this case have happened at all if Donald Trump wasn’t running for President? You know what the answer is to 95% certainty.

    This is one more brick removed from respect for the justice system. Law and order doesn’t rely on police and jails. It relies on the vast majority of the people respecting the legal system and following it voluntarily. Theses partisan prosecutions and lawsuits weaken that respect. Look at Chicago, Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, etc. Respect for the law is gone because people realized they wouldn’t be prosecuted for ‘good’ crimes like looting. Now looting is routine and socially acceptable. How do you fix that? In Texas, so many people are just printing temporary tags for their cars instead of registering them that the police can’t catch them all. If all the police in Texas did nothing but pull cars over with fake tags, they wouldn’t make a dent. That is a frightening decline in law-abiding behavior and you can trace it to the irresponsible partisanship of attorneys, judges, juries, and the press.

  3. A Facebook friend asked if this decision would require Trump to register as a sex offender and if it would bar him from running for office.

    He had to be told the difference between a civil trial and a criminal trial.

    No doubt, this was politically motivated in order to damage his new Presidential campaign. Using the process to punish political opponents is something that happens in Third World countries and Banana Republics. Unfortunately, Trump’s most devoted followers and many others will not be dissuaded from voting for him because of this. The Democrats needed to be sane after 2016 and they weren’t. They have created the enemy they claim to despise.

    Nevertheless, I also have no doubt that he probably is guilty of this type of behavior, just as I am sure he’s paid for more than one abortion in his life, regardless of what he claims to believe now, and that his so-called Christianity isn’t any more reverent than Johnson’s or Ike’s.

    People would be able to see that if they’d hadn’t been so corrupted by the ethics villains in our culture.

      • Certainly they have, but they don’t see it that way. What they’ve done also, which fits into their narrative, is create reactionary voters who see their sabotage for what it is, dig in their heels and vote for Trum come what may. They create the so-called dangerous white nationalists they claim were the only ones who voted for Trump.

  4. Could the incident have happened? Sure. Did it happen? I would have to hear a lot more evidence than what has been publicized to be convinced to even a preponderance of the evidence standard.
    She couldn’t even remember what year it happened? For all the major traumatic events in my life. I can tell you the year, month, date, day of the week and in many cases the exact time of the events. And I’ve probably logged more such events than the “average bear,” as Yogi would say.
    I investigated many sexual assaults and helped to prosecute the offenders. Had the statute of limitations not been a factor, no prosecutor I know would have brought a criminal case on the facts (apparently) extant.
    The defamation verdict was self inflicted; the just desserts of Trump’s irrepressible big mouth.
    I get some sense, just from conservatives that I talk to, that Trump’s star is fading. As I have said previously, Trump’s election was just a symptom of how angry the voters were with the status quo, and his remaining support is largely symbolic of their continuing anger with both the ruling elites generally and their treatment of Trump before, during and after his presidency. The Left is counting on riling up Trump’s presumptive base enough to win him the nomination, then going into full attack mode to turn everyone except the hardest of his hardcore base against him. As a conservative, I want a candidate who can win, not just stick a metaphorical finger in the eye of the elites. If we are to be successful in conserving what is left of our freedoms, or have any hope of restoring constitutional governance, we need to nominate a winner, give Trump a gold watch, thank him for his service, and wish him a great retirement at Mar-A-Lago. I fear that Trump, if denied the nomination, will go full narcissist and conduct a third-party campaign, handing the presidency to the Democrats and paving the way for one party rule, and worse, in our near future.
    One thing for sure, with the economy failing and the banking industry in thinly-concealed turmoil, if I lived in or near a big city I would be implementing some sort of exit strategy, PDQ. This promises to be a really long, hot summer.

    • I don’t think that is exactly what is going on. Some people are very devoted to Trump himself, sure, but I think that is a very small number. There is a much larger number of people who have had the veil ripped off their eyes during Trump’s presidency who now see the “deep state” for what it is: an overgrown government bureaucracy working in tandem with private corporations and wealthy, psychopathic individuals to supersede the actual democratically elected government and render elected officials little more than window dressing. Lawmakers don’t write laws, lobbyists do. Lawmakers don’t control government money, bureaucrats do. Lawmakers don’t create regulations, bureaucrats do. There is a huge group of unelected, unobservable, shadowy and malicious individuals ruling over the American people with no accountability or oversight. Much of the public wants this stopped, and they want to elect people for the sole purpose of stopping it. Unfortunately, the deep state is quite good at inserting their own operatives into the electoral field or conscripting elected officials to their cause after the fact, and the media is useless for vetting candidates. People are supporting Trump because he is not beholden to these shadow groups, he has a proven track record of opposing them, and his wrecking ball nature makes it seem feasible that he might be able to damage or destroy them.

      A lot of people assume that Trump voters don’t see him for what he is. I think they do, and under normal circumstances wouldn’t vote for him. Under the current circumstances, destruction is exactly what people want. Trump’s desire for revenge is actually a benefit to this group. This group also does not trust anyone else to do anything about the deep state because they are all beholden to them in some way.

      This has moved far beyond politics into civil war territory. People will use the tools they have because there isn’t any other option than violence, and they wish to avoid violence. Trump is just a tool. I think the movement has pushed beyond anger into determination. Every time the deep state takes some malicious, unprecedented action against Trump, people see it as a direct act of war on themselves because that is who the elites are really after. Trump is just a proxy.

      With or without Trump, this civil war is not going to stop. If he is taken off the playing field, the battlefield will just move elsewhere.

        • I am not caught up on exactly what is going on in Pakistan right now. I know that many Middle Eastern countries are openly mocking US leadership and marveling at the sudden deterioration of the US. I will have to go research Pakistan in particular to see what is going on there.

          • The current US-backed administration that kicked out the previous non-US backed administration has arrested the former president to keep him from running again. There is shooting, blood in the streets, and the former president’s supporters have raided a military base for weapons. The current government is saying this is all about corruption, but his regime really shouldn’t be complaining about corruption.

      • Your comments about the deep state are part of what I summarized as “restoring constitutional governance” in my comment. Nothing in our constitution gives the executive branch and its unelected minions the authority they wield with impunity and arrogance. The Congress has abdicated its responsibility to legislate in many vital areas, and the Executive branch has eagerly but improperly filled the void. I can’t understand why we continue to tolerate the steady progression we are making from being citizens to becoming subjects. I am still cautiously optimistic that we can avoid the civil “cold war,” already in-progress, turning hot. Sadly, my optimism fades daily.

    • More than fair. She set the tone for what came afterward, on top of approving the fake news & Russian collusion strategies. If we are more divided than ever, she had a large part to play in it. She didn’t do anything close to Mrs. Obama’s “go high”.

  5. “However, it is still a jury verdict after a trial before a judge, and as Americans, we should give it due weight.”

    The faith in jury verdicts, and the justice system built upon it, is based on the assumption the people can act objectively and make unbiased decisions when empaneled. This was the norm even in Dem controlled areas. However, at least the last 6-7 years, many Dems and their voters have proved they cannot check their biases and subjective beliefs/feelings when it comes to Trump and anyone they already decided is “fascist,” “white supremacist,” “bigot,” etc.

    Sadly, I think the jury institution and justice system as a whole will be yet other victim of the TDS and woke/SJ insanity

    • ‘Fraid I can’t do that after a recent disastrous trial, now on appeal, that made me lose what little faith I had in judges and juries alike getting it right.

  6. I would really like to know how the Access Hollywood tape could have been entered into evidence at the trial. If I recall correctly, Trump did not say HE actually groped women because he was rich I believe he said some women let you grope them when you are rich. There is a material difference in the language it is just like saying the Biden laptop had all the hallmarks of Russian disinformation. Furthermore, the testimony of other women who also never made claims until now is irrelevant to this case and the women making the claims should be barred from any future civil suits against Trump.

    The element of defamation bothers me as well. How do you refute an allegation without suggesting at least the person is lying. Isn’t the rape allegation defamation given the jury did not believe she was raped.

    As an extension of the logic in this case, can Rudy Gulliani now go and sue all the media for claiming he was pushing a Russian narrative with respect to Hunter’s laptop? Is that not defamation if call her a liar and it was a con job is defamation? Ordinarily, I would not think so. But now, how is her defamation claim any different than how so many characterized any of Trump’s supporters. Same is true for Tulsi Gabbard who Clinton (HRC) labeled a Russian asset.

    When New Yorkers are out for blood nothing short of total destruction will satisfy that bloodlust. The preponderance of evidence of that the rush to judgement by so many potential jurors in the Jorden Neely incident proves the point.

    I don’t know if he did or if he did not do what was alleged. I do not think she was defamed simply because the jury believed what she was selling. The problem for me is that what she was selling is long out of date for freshness.

    • You beat me to it on the tapes. It has always annoyed me that so many are willing to morph the commonly used “If you X, then you can Y” form of an expression into “I did Y” in this case. I would bet there wasn’t a person in the courtroom who hasn’t used that phrasing many times, even with an exaggerated example, merely to impart information. The judge was wrong to allow its use as evidence of anything.

  7. If Trump had mounted a convincing defense, I would be more sympathetic to his claim of having been railroaded by a biased NYC jury, but the fact is he didn’t.

    • No, he didn’t. It’s what made him a sloppy President. He needed to be better than he was and he didn’t. Flat learning curve, if any learning curve at all.

      It’s unfortunate because we desperately need an intelligent, erudite, ethical conservative leader who can explain what it is wrong with the increasingly-totalitarian Left and we don’t really have one.

    • Trump didn’t seem to mount a defense at all. I thought that was an…interesting choice. Not being a legal expert I will refrain from speculating as to why he might take that route from a legal standpoint, but as a layperson it just seemed odd.

      • The idea is that the plaintiff can’t present sufficient evidence to justify getting to the jury, so no rebuttal is necessary. The strategy now is to argue that to an appeals court.

        • How do you explain that on the jury sheet you linked to #3 which stated they found Trump used force was left blank and given that her claim was that he raped her was not established by the evidence yet because Trump claimed she lied or it was a con job was deemed defamatory. I thought defamation required that the statement was materially false. If they the jury could not find that her statements regarding rape were in fact true how can they say that what Trump said was not true.

    • How doyoushow a credible defense when the plaintiff can’t even tell you the YEAR it supposedly occurred?
      Trump testifying would have just created more material for hit jobs. What is a credible defense in this case? Other than showing the plaintiff has a documented mental illness or history of perjury?

    • I think it’s awfully hard to mount a defense when the plaintiff can’t even give a date when the event occurred. 1995 or
      1996, in his home base of NYC? If he listed every event attended and showed proof of travel on 80% of the dates, I’m positive she would have then claimed it occurred on the three or four days of each year that it was “possible”. The entire thing was a sham and a scam, and even the best lawyers can’t fight the type of leniency (regarding evidence) and bias that the “justice system” + all the progressive idiots participating in the mockery that was on display here.

      If they can get him, they can get anyone…and that should put the fear of God in all of us.

  8. I generally respect jury decisions and I understand that this was a civil case, but this whole case has my non-lawyer brain swimming in circles.

    How can a jury rule this way when the whole case is nearly 30 years old, it’s a “she said, he said” civil case that has absolutely no physical evidence that the accused rape or sexual assault ever occurred, no physical evidence or eyewitness evidence whatsoever to prove that the two people have ever even met, and the accuser couldn’t provide the date/time that it occurred? I’m no Donald Trump fan and I know the standards for civil cases are a lot different than criminal cases, but this is really bothering me. From what I can tell there was absolutely no defense that Trump could have offered even if he testified other than “I didn’t do it”, and since no date for the alleged rape was provided Trump’s legal hands were literally tied and there was absolutely no way he could prove his innocence by showing that he was somewhere else.

    I agree with what wrote above that “Men in this country are already at great risk from false accusations of sexual assault and this and the Kavanaugh accusations took the bar from requiring little evidence to no evidence at all.”

    This was a guilty until proven innocent case and this case was set up so Trump couldn’t provide evidence that it didn’t occur as Carroll claimed, Carroll’s lawyers did a great job, and it seems to me that this case and ruling could very well open up the flood gates for similar cases using the same basic template.

  9. Has anyone noticed what is going on in Pakistan right now? Even Honda has recognized that the US is rapidly becoming an 3rd world country and has started importing their 3rd world motorcycles to the US.

  10. I can’t believe the judge let in so much course of conduct evidence. “He did this to the plaintiff because he did the same thing to other women, or talked about doing it?” Sorry, you lost me there, Judge. I think the verdict will be thrown out on appeal.

    • Even if this get’s thrown out on appeal the left’s droning mantra will be that the jury judged Trump guilty of sexual assault. Jean Carroll is likely going to make a lot of money once she starts her anti-Trump media tour.

      • Correct, the Left will be perfectly happy to blame so-called technicalities because they don’t want voters to understand the law just as they don’t want voters to understand the Constitution. Voters, like my Facebook friend above, don’t know the difference between Civil trials and Criminal trials. The headlines will read that Trump was found guilty of sexual assault and defamation by a jury and people will be rubbing their hands together eagerly wondering when he’s going to prison.

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