Writer E Jean Carroll said she would not hesitate to sue former President Donald Trump again if he continues to defame her, saying the effort to fight back against his attacks showcased how the justice system can be used to hold the powerful to account.
Carroll spoke to MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow on Monday, just a few days after a jury in federal court awarded her $83.3 million in damages for making defamatory statements about her for years. Trump has so far resisted making any remarks about Carroll after the verdict, a notable shift since at one point in the trial, he posted more than 40 missives on Truth Social about her. But Carroll said she would “absolutely” file another suit if the massive verdict does not deter the former president, despite the emotional toll she said the trial took on her.
“Many people, as you know, have been through much worse than I went through with that trial,” she said. “I am more than willing to do it again because we achieved so much in a seven-day trial. We did what people thought was impossible. We beat Donald Trump.”
Carroll had sued the former president over his continued attacks against her after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in a Manhattan department store in 1996. The former president repeatedly called Carroll a “whack job” and “fraud”, insults that continued even after a jury found him liable for defamation and sexual abuse, awarding Carroll $5 million in damages in May 2023.
Maddow asked Carroll how she felt sitting in the same room as Trump during the trial, an ordeal the writer described as terrifying until she was on the witness stand.
“Amazingly, I looked out, and he was nothing. He was a phantom,” Carroll recalled, saying she had had an “actual breakdown” before the trial began. “It was an astonishing discovery for me. He’s nothing. We don’t need to be afraid of him, he can be knocked out. Twice.”
Shawn Crowley, one of Carroll’s attorneys, said Trump’s decision to appear at the trial only hurt his defence and demonstrated his pattern of behaviour to jurors.
“He himself, during the trial, helped us make that argument by leaving court each day … and continuing to defame her while sitting in court on trial for defaming her,” Crowley told Maddow. “I think that it sort of helped the jury to not just believe what we were telling them… but see the way this guy just believes he is not bound by any laws.”
Crowley said that despite Trump’s antics during his rallies, in the courtroom he was just another defendant who had to abide by the rules of a trial.
“When Donald Trump is stripped of all of the press and not at a rally and there’s no TV cameras … he’s not that scary,” Crowley said. “I think when you have a strong judge… and you have real lawyers, you really can get him to behave. He’s just a guy.”
“He’s just a guy sometimes acting like a petulant toddler,” the lawyer added. “But he’s just a guy.”