Donald Trump owes $83.3 million in defamation damages. What happens next?
Image via AP.

Donald Trump New York court
Spoiler: It could get worse yet for the former President.

For years, Donald Trump hurled insults at E. Jean Carroll, saying the advice columnist fabricated a sexual assault allegation against him to sell a book.

Will Trump keep that up, now that he’s been hit with a $83.3 million defamation judgment?

A jury on Friday found that Trump had maliciously damaged Carroll’s reputation in 2019 after she went public with her accusations. Jurors awarded her $18 million to compensate for the personal harm she experienced, then added $65 million more to punish Trump — and maybe prevent him from continuing to go after her on social media.

A different jury concluded last May that Trump was responsible for sexually abusing Carroll in a Manhattan department store dressing room in 1996. Those jurors awarded Carroll $5 million. If both judgments stand, Trump would owe her a total of $88.3 million.

Trump and his lawyers have promised to appeal.

A look at the verdict and where the case might go from here.

THE ACCUSATION: Carroll said she was shopping at the Bergdorf Goodman store on Fifth Avenue in 1996 when she bumped into Trump, who lived nearby. She said they recognized each other.

In court testimony and in her memoir, Carroll said she and Trump went to the store’s lingerie section and then into a dressing room as each tried to persuade the other to try on a lacy item. When they moved into the dressing room, she said, Trump pushed her into a wall, pulled down her tights and sexually assaulted her. Carroll said she broke free and ran.

After she wrote about the alleged encounter in 2019, Trump, who by then has been elected president, told reporters he had no idea who Carroll was, that her accusation was “totally false” and that she motivated by a desire to sell books.

THE FIRST TRIAL: Carroll sued Trump for defamation in 2019, saying his statements about her were false and damaged her reputation. That claim wound up being bogged down for years over the legal question of whether, in denying the allegations, Trump had been fulfilling his duties as president. Trump claimed that the presidency shield him from liability against the defamation lawsuit.

In the meantime, New York changed its law to give sexual abuse survivors a fresh chance to sue over attacks that happened in the distant past. Carroll was one of the first people to take advantage, filing a new legal claim against Trump alleging that he had raped her. She also sued over things he had said about her after leaving the White House.

A jury heard testimony in that lawsuit last year and found that while Carroll had not proved she had been raped, under New York’s definition of that crime, Trump had sexually abused her.

The jury awarded Carroll $2 million for the abuse and nearly $3 million for Trump’s public comments about her, which it said were defamatory — and therefore not protected free speech.

THE SECOND TRIAL: With the main legal issues resolved, one matter remained: Had Carroll also been damaged by Trump’s comments while he was still in the White House.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled that there would need to be a new trial to decide that claim, but that trial did not need to revisit the issue of whether Trump had assaulted Carroll or whether the things he had said about her were defamatory. This trial would decide how much more, if anything, Trump owed Carroll for things he had said about her on June 21-22, 2019.

Trump and his lawyers have been outraged that they did not get a chance to make a new argument that he was innocent, but Kaplan said they had already lost that fight.

“It is a very well-established legal principle in this country that prevents do-overs by disappointed litigants,” Kaplan told the lawyers on the day Trump testified in the second trial. “He lost it and he is bound. And the jury will be instructed that, regardless of what he says in court here today, he did it, as far as they’re concerned. That is the law.”

WHAT’S NEXT? Trump’s legal team is appealing the verdict in the first case and has promised an appeal of the second one, too.

“It will not deter us. We will keep fighting. And I assure you, we didn’t win today, but we will win,” said Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba.

Among other things, his team wants higher courts to rule that Trump was within his rights to forcefully deny Carroll’s allegations and suggest she had ulterior motives.

“Everyone has a right to defend themselves,” Habba said.

Trump’s lawyers also are contesting Kaplan’s ruling that the jury in the second trial did not need to revisit whether Trump was liable for sexual assault, and that the judge unfairly limited what Trump’s lawyers could say in front of the jury.

Appeals will go to a panel of judges in New York. The appeals eventually could reach the U.S. Supreme Court for the justices to consider.

In the meantime, Trump has put more than $5.5 million in an escrow account to potentially cover the cost of the first verdict while the appeals play out.

WHAT IF TRUMP KEEPS SAYING PUBLICLY THAT CARROLL MADE IT UP? Carroll could bring a new lawsuit over each new comment. Potentially, new trials would have to be held at which juries could pile on additional damages.

The $88.3 million in judgments against Trump are actually less than what some of his supporters have faced in recent defamation cases.

A jury last year decided that Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor and Trump ally who tried to keep the-then president in power after he lost the 2020 election, owed $148 million to two former Georgia election workers for spreading a conspiracy theory about them. Juries in Texas and Connecticut have hit Infowars host Alex Jones with $1.5 billion in defamation judgments for promoting a false claim that the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting was a hoax.

Unlike Giuliani and Jones, Trump might have the financial resources to pay a huge judgment. He reported having about $294 million in cash or cash equivalents on his most recent annual financial statement, for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2021. That’s in addition to the value of his real estate assets, which Trump has claimed are worth billions of dollars.

Still, Trump faces other potential financial liabilities. He is awaiting a verdict in a civil fraud trial, where New York state has asked that he forfeit $370 million in what officials say were ill-gotten gains from loans and deals made using financial statements that exaggerated his wealth.

Associated Press


  • TRUMP 20 to 25

    January 27, 2024 at 3:37 pm

    Trump is a rapist. And anyone who still supports him with this knowledge is a disgusting, immoral piece of human filth. Full stop.

    • Dont Say FLA

      January 27, 2024 at 7:11 pm

      Agree. They say they like his policies. Welp, his policies are the exact same nonsense as all the other G0P candidates had. So it ain’t the policies.

    • Marvin M.

      January 27, 2024 at 7:13 pm

      And yet, at this very website, is an article with the title “Florida Republicans will consolidate around Donald Trump in February”.
      Speaks volumes about the state of the GOP today.

  • Dont Say FLA

    January 27, 2024 at 4:12 pm

    What happens next is he does it again and then pays her $400 million or some amount like that

  • Christina PooShaw

    January 27, 2024 at 4:27 pm

    Florida Don is on Zillow now list Mar-A-Swampo…ooh he will need to remove all those boxes of..are those plans to bring back slavery?!?

    Oh Florida-Man, we aren’t going to allow that!

  • Tom

    January 27, 2024 at 4:35 pm

    Mister ‘grab them by the p*ssy’ grabbed one too many I guess. Couldn’t happen to a nicer person. Queue the violins.

  • Stand up fo women

    January 27, 2024 at 6:41 pm

    Predator CONVICTED of RAPE. And people still want this thug as the President. Who knows how many others he has raped.

  • Impeach Biden

    January 27, 2024 at 8:48 pm

    Why didn’t this woman come forward sooner. 1996? Same with the Justice Kavanaugh accuser. None of us really know for sure what happened but it sure smells like lotto fever to me.

    • Michael K

      January 27, 2024 at 11:12 pm

      Ask a woman who has been raped and abused – she’ll explain it to you. Or ask any man who has been abused by a religious man wearing clerical robes. It’s all about power and control. Would you come forward publicly if it happened to you?

    • Marvin M.

      January 27, 2024 at 11:48 pm

      Duly noted – You don’t think if your kid got diddled by a priest, didn’t tell you because of the shame, didn’t tell anyone for 30 years, or had friends he did tell that said “NO! Don’t tell anyone! Don’t make waves! It’ll just make it worse!”, that you think your kid should gives up his rights to any sort of legal recourse because he took too long to speak up about it.
      As for “None of us really know for sure what happened”, yeah, Trump bragged on tape about grabbing women in the privates.
      He is known to have hung out for at least some period of time with Jeffrey Epstein, and he cheated on his wife/s at least twice.
      A jury found him guilty of sexual abuse (uh, rape) but I guess that’s not good enough for you. You still say “well, we don’t really ‘know’ if that happened”.
      Face it, Trump is a hot mess of grift, graft, fraud, and debauchery. Support him all you want, but don’t be surprised – or assume there’s some sort of conspiracy – if a whole lot of other people cannot support him and choose to vote for someone else.

  • MH/Duuuval

    January 28, 2024 at 12:19 pm

    AG — Please get a hobby. Trump is Florida news only as a courtesy we give to all tourists.

    DJT: Please get online to the Hillsdale College course on the Constitution and check out the powers of the executive — which don’t include unilaterally changing the Constitution.

  • MH/Duuuval

    January 29, 2024 at 10:25 pm

    Fox, Dominion reach $787M settlement over election claims

    Coulda been worse, Donnie, like Fox and Dominion — but keep running your mouth:

  • Andrew Finn

    January 30, 2024 at 11:13 am

    What happens next ? Well now that Carroll has opened her big mouth on national TV and called Trump names — she should be waiting for his defamation lawsuit to be filled. Should be good for at least around 83 million or so, don’t ya think ?? Don’t spend it yet there Jean – could be “Welcome to Karma City” !!!!!!

Comments are closed.


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