Another day, another legal setback for Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, a federal judge in New York ruled that the former president would be held liable once again for defaming E. Jean Carroll, a journalist who had previously accused him of raping her some 30 years ago in a Manhattan department store.
In an initial civil trial, a jury already awarded her $5 million in damages, finding Trump guilty of sexually abusing Carroll in the 1990s — and also of defaming her in 2022. Now, the sum owed by Trump is likely to grow.
Trump faces a second civil trial, related to another set of allegedly defamatory statements he made about Carroll after she first accused him of rape in a 2019 article that appeared in New York magazine.
In his 24-page ruling, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote that Trump acted with “actual malice” towards Carroll when he aggressively rebutted her accusations. The second trial would thus “be limited to the issue of damages only.”
It was the latest legal setback for Trump, who continues to enjoy strong support from Republican primary voters even as he faces the possibility of spending the rest of his life in federal prison.
Read more on Yahoo News: Trump criminal charges: Here are all 91 felony counts against the former president across 4 cases
Another loss to Carroll
A former columnist for Elle magazine, Carroll, 79, alleged that Trump, 77, raped her at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan, where she had run into the real estate magnate in either 1995 or 1996.
Despite the many years that had passed since the alleged assault, Carroll could sue Trump in civil — but not criminal — court under the Adult Survivors Act, a New York law signed last year by Gov. Kathy Hochul that temporarily suspended the statute of limitations for victims of sexual assault.
Trump has consistently denied the allegations. “I’ve never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book; that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section,” he said in a statement after the New York article was published four years ago.
He also claimed that Carroll was not his “type.”
When the case went to court last spring, Carroll offered powerful and convincing testimony. “I am here because Donald Trump raped me,” she told the court.
In a unanimous May verdict, the jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million.
A second trial, focused on his 2019 statements that Carroll alleged were defamatory, is supposed to begin next January. In Wednesday’s ruling, Kaplan wrote that the results of the first trial would effectively hold for the second.
In other words, the question isn’t whether Trump is guilty or not, but only how much he has to pay — for a second time.
Other legal dangers loom
Carroll is hardly Trump’s lone legal problem. He faces four other trials, all of them in criminal court, which means the penalty in each could involve a lengthy prison sentence.
In late March, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg indicted Trump on charges related to payments he made to adult film actress Stephanie Clifford, who performed as Stormy Daniels, in 2016. The payments were intended to prevent Clifford from disclosing the details of an affair she’d had with the aspiring presidential candidate several years before.
Then, in June, special counsel Jack Smith, who had been appointed by U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland, indicted Trump on 37 charges related to his handling of classified documents after his term concluded. Smith appended the original indictment with additional charges in August.
Working under a broad mandate, Smith also indicted Trump for attempting to obstruct the proper tally of the 2020 presidential election and conspiring to overturn the results, an effort that culminated with the Jan. 6, 2021, riot at the U.S. Capitol.
Two weeks after the second Smith indictment, Fani Willis, the district attorney in Fulton County, Ga., charged Trump and more than a dozen of his associates with having orchestrated a conspiracy intended to overturn that state’s election results, which favored Joe Biden.
The cases are putting a strain on Trump's presidential campaign, though his base has only embraced Trump tighter as his legal perils have deepened.
It is not clear when any of Trump's criminal trials will begin, or how they will conflict with his presidential run. But if he is convicted, the onetime president could spend years in prison.
Read more via The Independent: Will Donald Trump go to prison?