Donald Trump is asking a federal court to order a new trial in the civil case brought by the writer E. Jean Carroll or to reduce the damages awarded to her by a jury that found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation.
The former president’s attorneys argued in a filing on Thursday that the $5 million verdict was “grossly excessive.”
Carroll accused Trump of attacking her in a department store changing room during a chance encounter in the mid-1990s, and then of defaming her after she went public with the story in 2019.
Trump’s attorneys argued in the new filing that a $2 million portion of the award was excessive because the jury did not find him liable for rape.
Trump has denied assaulting Carroll and claimed her story was fabricated. She testified that they had been amiably walking through the store, joking during a light conversation, before Trump pushed her against a wall, her head slamming against it, and forcefully penetrated her with his hand and penis.
Trump’s attorneys claimed $2.7 million in compensatory damages for defamation were based on “speculation” about how many people viewed a defamatory social media post by Trump in which he denied the allegation. The filing also claims the remaining punitive damages related to the defamation were awarded “without due process.”
Roberta Kaplan, an attorney for Carroll, said in a statement to CBS News that Trump is trying to argue Carroll doesn’t “deserve” the damages awarded to her, “even if he did those things.”
“Trump’s arguments are frivolous,” Kaplan said. “The jury carefully considered the evidence that Ms. Carroll presented, and Trump did not put on a single witness of his own. This time, Trump will not be able to escape the consequences of his actions.”
Carroll’s attorneys argued during the eight-day trial that her allegations against Trump fit with what they called Trump’s “modus operandi.” In addition to witnesses who said Carroll confided in them after the incident, the jury heard from two other women who described Trump suddenly turning casual confrontations into sexual misconduct. They also watched the “Access Hollywood” video clip that emerged during the 2016 campaign, in which Trump could be heard crudely describing grabbing women by their genitals.
Trump has also appealed the verdict and continues to vehemently deny the allegations. Carroll amended a separate, previously filed defamation lawsuit, seeking at least. She claimed comments Trump made at a televised town hall — the day after the jury found him liable — were also disparaging.