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A federal judge has rejected Donald Trump's request for a new trial after a jury found the former president liable for sexually abusing and defaming E. Jean Carroll, the author who says he raped her in the dressing room of a New York department store in the 1990s. She was awarded $5 million in damages in the civil trial.
Carroll sued Trump under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York state law passed late last year giving adult victims of sexual assault and abuse one year to bring lawsuits against their alleged perpetrators regardless of when the alleged abuse took place.
In a 59-page decision issued Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan dismissed Trump's arguments for reducing damages to less than $1 million, saying the verdict was neither a "seriously erroneous result" nor a "miscarriage of justice."
Trump, who is appealing the verdict, called the amount awarded to Carroll for sexual abuse "grossly excessive" because the jury also concluded that she did not prove that Trump raped her. Such abuse, Trump argued, could have included groping Carroll's breasts through clothing, "which is a far cry from rape."
"The proof convincingly established, and the jury implicitly found, that Mr. Trump deliberately and forcibly penetrated Ms. Carroll's vagina with his fingers, causing immediate pain and long lasting emotional and psychological harm," the judge wrote.
It was the latest legal setback for Trump, who is facing multiple ongoing criminal probes as he seeks the 2024 Republican nomination in another bid for the White House.
Trump says he’s a target of DOJ’s Jan. 6 investigation
On Tuesday, Trump announced that he is a target of the Justice Department’s investigation into the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and his efforts to overturn the results of the 2020 election.
In a lengthy statement posted on Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform, the former president said that he received a so-called target letter from special counsel Jack Smith on Sunday night in connection with the DOJ’s probe of the attack on the Capitol carried out by a violent mob of his supporters contesting his loss in the 2020 presidential election.
Trump received a similar letter from Smith shortly before his indictment in the federal investigation into his handling of classified material after he left office and his alleged efforts to obstruct the probe.
“Deranged Jack Smith, the prosecutor with Joe Biden’s DOJ, sent a letter (again, it was Sunday night!) stating that I am a TARGET of the January 6th Grand Jury investigation, and giving me a very short 4 days to report to the Grand Jury, which almost always means an Arrest and Indictment,” Trump said in the Truth Social post.
Smith has been leading the DOJ’s investigation into Jan. 6 and Trump’s efforts to hold onto power after he lost the 2020 election in addition to the classified documents probe.
The letter reportedly informed Trump he is facing three potential criminal charges: conspiracy to commit an offense against or defraud the United States; deprivation of rights; and witness tampering.
The reaction from Trump’s GOP rivals
In the classified documents case, most of Trump’s rivals in the 2024 Republican presidential primary were quick to defend him. But as news of a second potential federal indictment broke, they were not as eager.
At a campaign stop in South Carolina, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis criticized what he called the "weaponization" of law enforcement while questioning why Trump failed to forcefully stop his supporters who stormed the Capitol.
“I think it was shown how he was in the White House and didn’t do anything while things were going on," DeSantis told reporters, but added: “To try to criminalize that — that’s a different issue entirely.”
Vivek Ramaswamy, who last month urged every candidate in the GOP primary to promise to pardon Trump if elected, has continued to defend the former president. But this time Ramaswamy’s response was decidedly muted.
“I would have made very different judgments than President Trump did, but a bad judgment is not a crime,” Ramaswamy said in a statement. “It’s a mistake to say he was responsible for Jan. 6. The real cause was systematic and pervasive censorship in the lead-up to those events.”
Judge in classified docs case mulls Trump request for delay
In federal court in Fort Pierce, Fla., Tuesday, the Trump-appointed federal judge overseeing the classified documents case heard arguments from both sides over his request to delay the trial until after the 2024 presidential election.
Judge Aileen Cannon said she would issue a written ruling soon during the first formal hearing since Trump’s arraignment last month, when he pleaded not guilty to all charges stemming from Smith’s 38-count indictment against the former president and Walt Nauta, his personal valet and co-defendant.
Earlier this month, Nauta pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired with Trump to hide top secret documents at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Fla., last year.
During the 90-minute hearing, Cannon appeared to skeptical about the former president’s request to delay the trial until after the election, but also wary of the request by prosecutors for it to begin as soon as this year.
Georgia court rejects Trump’s bid to toss case
The Georgia Supreme Court unanimously has rejected a last-ditch effort by Trump to try to head off a potential indictment for tampering with the results of the 2020 presidential election in the state.
In a five-page decision handed down Monday, all nine justices — eight of whom were appointed by Republican governors — said Trump’s lawyers had failed to make a persuasive case for shutting down the election probe led by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis.
Willis has signaled that indictments are possible in the next few weeks as a grand jury convenes to consider possible charges against Trump and others who tried to persuade Georgia election officials to reverse Trump’s narrow loss to President Biden in the state.
Biden carried Georgia by just 11,779 votes.