A federal judge Monday dismissed former President Trump’s claim that E. Jean Carroll defamed him in May after a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing the writer.
The day after the verdict, Carroll appeared on CNN and indicated Trump had raped her. The jury had not found Trump liable for rape under New York’s definition, but instead found him liable for sexual abuse.
Trump then claimed Carroll’s insistence on CNN amounted to defamation, filing a counterclaim in Carroll’s other lawsuit that has not yet gone to trial.
U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Monday dismissed Trump’s argument, ruling Carroll’s statement on the cable network was substantially true and that “[t]here would have been no different effect on the mind of an average listener.”
“The difference between Ms. Carroll’s allegedly defamatory statements — that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as defined in the New York Penal Law — and the ‘truth’ — that Mr. Trump forcibly digitally penetrated Ms. Carroll — is minimal. Both are felonious sex crimes,” Kaplan ruled.
Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, separately rejected Trump’s defense that he has “absolute presidential immunity” in the case.
Trump attorney Alina Habba said the former president would be filing an appeal shortly, calling it a “flawed decision.”
Carroll in June 2019 publicly accused Trump of raping her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. She has since filed two lawsuits against Trump.
In May, a jury heard one of those cases and found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defaming Carroll last year by denying her story.
Carroll appeared on CNN the following morning, and Trump appeared on the network for a town hall hours after that.
Both addressed the jury’s verdict during their appearances. Carroll added Trump’s comments to her pending lawsuit, and Trump followed by filing the now-dismissed counterclaim.
The lawsuit had originally accused Trump of defamation when Carroll initially came forward in 2019. It cited three statements Trump made denying Carroll’s story, including one he made during an interview with The Hill. A trial is scheduled for January.
“We are pleased that the Court dismissed Donald Trump’s counterclaim,” Carroll attorney Robbie Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, said in a statement.
“That means that the January 15th jury trial will be limited to a narrow set of issues and shouldn’t take very long to complete,” she continued. “E. Jean Carroll looks forward to obtaining additional compensatory and punitive damages based on the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made in 2019.”