Trump Takes the Stand: 'Just Wanted to Defend Myself'

Former president testifies briefly in damages trial after E. Jean Carroll's defamation win
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 25, 2024 2:27 PM CST
Trump Takes the Stand in Defamation Case
E. Jean Carroll arrives at Federal Court, Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024, in New York.   (AP Photo/Peter K. Afriyie)

After much anticipation, Donald Trump took the stand in the damages trial that followed his loss in a defamation case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll—and he was done in a few minutes. When his attorney Alina Habba asked him if he had ever instructed anyone to hurt Carroll in his statements, Trump said, "No, I just wanted to defend myself, my family and, frankly, the presidency," per the Washington Post. When Habba asked him if he stood by his previous deposition in which he denied Carroll's allegations that Trump raped her decades ago, he said, "100 percent, yes," per the New York Times.

"She said something I considered a false accusation—totally false," added Trump, but Judge Lewis A. Kaplan had that line stricken from the record and asked the jury to ignore it, per CNN. Before taking the stand, the judge warned Habba that Trump must not make comments outside the scope of the damages proceedings. At that point, Trump said from his seat at the defense table, "I never met this woman," drawing a rebuke from the judge, per NBC News. "You are interrupting these proceedings while your counsel is talking, and that is not permitted," Kaplan said.

The defense rested after Trump's testimony of about three minutes, and closing arguments were to open on Friday morning. As Trump was leaving the courtroom, he could be heard saying, "This is not America" multiple times. Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages. (Carroll previously won a civil verdict on the assault and defamation claims, and this trial is focused on how much Trump owes her in damages.)

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