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Updated Jan 25, 2024, 3:14pm EST

Trump testifies briefly as defamation trial resumes

Donald Trump is seen on Jan. 25, 2024 in New York City.
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Former President Donald Trump testified Thursday in a civil defamation trial brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, saying he never instructed anyone to hurt her in his statements.

Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages over comments Trump made while in office, calling her a liar after she accused him of raping her in the 1990s, and saying he couldn’t have assaulted her because “she’s not my type.” A judge has already ruled the comments as defamatory and the latest trial is solely to establish damages.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is presiding over the case, has struggled to keep Trump in line in the courtroom, with the former president heard muttering “con job” and “witch hunt” last week as Carroll testified to the jury of the reputational damage she suffered at the hands of Trump and his followers.

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The judge told Trump’s lawyer Thursday he could only ask the former president two questions while he was on the stand: Whether Trump stood by what he said in his deposition, and whether he ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll.

In a one-minute direct examination, Trump said he stood by his deposition and that he denied Carroll’s allegations in an effort to defend himself.

Asked if he instructed anyone to hurt the writer in his statements, the former president replied, “No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family, and frankly, the presidency.” Kaplan instructed the jury to disregard everything he said after “No.”

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As Trump left the courtroom, he muttered, “This is not America. Not America. This is not America,” The Washington Post reported.

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The clipped exchange came after Carroll’s attorney last week complained that Trump was making comments that the jury could overhear during the trial. Kaplan told Trump his right to be in the courtroom could be forfeited if he continued to be disruptive.

“Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial. I understand you are very eager for me to do that,” the judge said.

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“I would love it,” Trump responded.

“I know you would, because you just can’t control yourself in this circumstance, apparently. You just can’t,” Kaplan replied.

“Neither can you,” Trump said.

The second trial in a pair of civil cases Carroll brought against Trump, this one is focused solely on what the former Elle columnist is owed.

A federal jury last May found Trump liable for battery and defamation in the prior case, which centered on comments the former president made in 2022 calling Carroll’s claims that he sexually abused her a “con job” and “hoax.” The jury ordered him to pay her $5 million in damages.

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