May 10, 2023

Trump Trial Verdict

Donald Trump must pay $5 million in damages for sexually abusing magazine writer E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s and then defaming her by branding her a liar, a jury decided on Tuesday… Jurors were tasked with deciding whether Trump raped, sexually abused or forcibly touched Carroll, and were separately asked if Trump defamed Carroll. The jurors found Trump sexually abused her but not that he raped her.” Reuters

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From the Left

The left lauds the verdict as long-overdue corroboration for the many sexual assault allegations against Trump.

Carroll’s lawyers presented an efficient, well-constructed and coherent case — including testimony from Carroll herself, from two witnesses who spoke with Carroll shortly after her encounter with Trump, from a former Bergdorf Goodman employee who testified that the relevant area in the store at the time matched Carroll’s description, and from another employee of the store who testified that there were no security cameras in the area at the time. Other witnesses for Carroll included Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, who testified that Trump had sexually assaulted them as well…

“Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by dozens of women over the years. Carroll’s allegations were particularly shocking and horrifying, so the case served both as a referendum on Carroll’s specific case — albeit one that the jury resolved in somewhat mixed fashion — but also as a larger proxy battle over Trump’s mistreatment of women over the decades. Whether Trump likes it or not, the verdict lends further support to the credibility of all of those other allegations.”

Ankush Khardori, Politico

The word rape carries extra connotations in our culture, and the jurors might have been gun shy about applying it regardless of the specific standard there. We could even see this in the case: Carroll testified and her friends testified that when the event happened, she didn’t want to use the word rape. She didn’t use it in conversations with friends…

“In fact, there’s a lot of academic research about how victims and survivors often shy away from the word rape and want to characterize the events as something else. Sometimes they’ll use words like sexual assault or sexual abuse, or even say ‘oh, it’s just boys being boys.’…

“So there’s a lot of stigma in many directions around the word rape and perhaps this jury, pragmatically recognizing that, agreed that Trump’s responsible, agreed in the dollar amount, but they didn’t want to force the issue on the word rape.”

Corey Rayburn Yung, Slate

“[Trump] was famously caught on tape bragging about grabbing women’s genitals, because when you’re a ‘star,’ women let you assault them. He said more or less the same during his deposition in this case – and added, both revoltingly and questionably, that stars have gotten away with this for the last million years, ‘unfortunately or fortunately.’…

“[The verdict should] be a warning to Republicans: Trump’s misogyny, the #MeToo movement, and the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade have all proven to be galvanizing forces for female voters. Now, their party’s leading horse has been found liable for sexual abuse by a jury of his peers, while he continues to face other legal threats. Trump is a liability. Women are outraged. #MeToo seems resurgent. Is this really who the GOP wants to gamble on?

Jill Filipovic, Time

From the Right

The right argues that the verdict is likely due to Trump’s failure to testify, and is skeptical that it will impact the election.

The right argues that the verdict is likely due to Trump’s failure to testify, and is skeptical that it will impact the election.

“At the end of summations, Carroll’s lawyer Michael Ferrara reminded the jury… that ‘Donald Trump never looked you in the eye and denied’ the allegations. E. Jean Carroll told the jury a disturbing story, but Donald Trump’s silence spoke volumes… While Trump has complained that he was silenced by the judge (he wasn’t), the fact is that he declined to attend the trial and testify, opting instead to play golf in Europe…

“It had to be infuriating to the jurors that Trump blew off the trial when they had to put their lives on hold to attend. More to the point, though, in a civil case, the litigants are expected to testify. If a defendant declines to testify, the jury may draw a negative inference — that he had no compelling defense, or was unwilling to have his story and his credibility subjected to cross-examination.”

Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review

“Trump never deserved the benefit of the doubt here, because he lived his life in a way that earned him nothing by scorn and distrust. Trump left two wives, and by all accounts cheated on all three of his wives. He bragged about sexually assaulting women, because ‘when you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything.’ Also, he has always smeared and personally attacked everyone who ever challenged him. None of those facts prove that he sexually assaulted or defamed Carroll, but they all make it very easy to believe… If the jury is wrong and he’s totally innocent in this case, Trump nevertheless made his own bed by living a life of depravity.

Timothy P. Carney, Washington Examiner

“It’s impossible to know what really happened in the dressing room of the Bergdorf Goodman department store when Donald Trump met E. Jean Carroll. There were no witnesses, Ms. Carroll can’t recall the exact year it happened, and she waited until 2019 to go public with her story… We also know Ms. Carroll was coaxed to file a civil lawsuit by longtime opponents of Mr. Trump, including lawyer George Conway. And her suit was financed by another Trump opponent, LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman…

“A modicum of restraint, or twinge of regret about the accusation against him, might have put some doubt in the jury’s mind. Yet even when it’s in his legal interest, Mr. Trump can’t stop from justifying his crude behavior. This is the Donald Trump whose words and actions so often subverted his own Presidency…

“Yet if most Republicans dismiss the verdict as one more political assault, Mr. Trump’s opponents and the press have themselves to blame. They also show no restraint. This lawsuit, like the two impeachments and the recent Alvin Bragg indictment that stretches the law, seems less an attempt to get at the truth than to find some way, any way, to disqualify him from ever becoming President again. Voters don’t like being told that a man they elected should be disqualified by members of the opposite party or the press.

Editorial Board, Wall Street Journal

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