Nikki Haley dodges chance to condemn Trump for E Jean Carroll sex abuse verdict

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Presidential candidate and former South Carolina Nikki Haley declined to condemn Donald Trump on Sunday, after the former president was found liable this week of defaming and sexually abusing writer E Jean Carroll.

Asked about whether it tarnishes the Republican party that its leading figure was found liable of such crimes, Ms Haley responded that all sides should be heard in a legal proceeding, and that it was up to the American people to pass judgment.

“I have always said that anyone that feels like they have been sexually assaulted in any way should come forward and have their voice heard,” Ms Haley told CBS News’s Face the Nation on Sunday. “I also think that anyone that’s been accused should be able to defend themselves. I was not on the jury. I am not the judge. I think that both of them had their voices heard. There has been a verdict and there has been an appeal.”

Asked whether this meant Ms Haley was questioning the verdict, she declined.

“There’s a verdict and I think there’s been an appeal,” she said. “I think it stands where it stands and I think the American people need to make a decision based on that.”

During the trial, a New York jury heard detailed accounts of how Mr Trump sexually assaulted Ms Carroll in a dressing room at the luxury Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman in 1996. Jessica Leeds and Natasha Stoynoff, who are among the more than two dozen women have accused Mr Trump of sexual assault and misconduct, also testified.

“I filed this lawsuit against Donald Trump to clear my name and to get my life back,” Ms Carroll said after the verdict. “Today, the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed.”

Following the decision, Mr Trump, who insists the attack never took place and that he doesn’t know Ms Carroll, lashed out at the Elle magazine writer during a CNN town hall, calling the allegations “fake” and a “made up story.”

Mr Trump filed notice on Thursday with the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals that he plans to challenge the $5m decision, while Ms Carroll’s lawyers indicated they may sue Mr Trump again for continuing to call the writer a liar.

“Everything’s on the table, obviously, and we have to give serious consideration to it,” attorney Roberta Kaplan told The New York Times. “We have to weigh the various pros and cons and we’ll come to a decision in the next day or so, probably.”