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E. Jean Carroll testifies in her 2nd defamation case against Trump

A MARTÍNEZ, HOST:

In court yesterday, a judge threatened to remove former President Donald Trump from the courtroom in the defamation trial involving writer E. Jean Carroll. The judge yesterday accused him of ignoring warnings to keep quiet while Carroll was on the stand. Now, this is the second defamation case involving Carroll and Trump. In this case, the judge has already ruled that Trump is liable for defaming her in 2019, when he denied her allegations of sexual assault. Now a jury has to decide how much, if any, damages Carroll is owed. NPR's Ximena Bustillo has been sitting in the courthouse. Ximena, yesterday Carroll testified, and she was questioned by both legal teams. What'd they focus on?

XIMENA BUSTILLO, BYLINE: Carroll's testimony, led by her lawyer, focused on the aftermath of then-President Donald Trump saying that she was, quote, "not his type" and denying her allegations of sexual assault completely. This fallout included a myriad of texts, calls, voicemails, emails and messages from members of the public that used what she says is the same language as Trump - that she's a liar and physically unattractive. Carroll used to be an advice columnist and TV network contributor and freelance writer. She has said that less of those opportunities have come up since she came forward with her story. According to her testimony, she used to get hundreds of requests for advice to her column email. Now maybe she gets two a week, she said. But she does continue to get many threats and insults instead.

Now, just as a reminder, this is the second time Trump is in court for defaming Carroll. Carroll previously alleged that Trump had raped her in a Manhattan department store, and then defamed her when he denied her story. Last spring, a jury found Trump had sexually abused Carroll and then defamed her, awarding her $5 million in damages.

MARTÍNEZ: What did Trump's lawyers ask Carroll?

BUSTILLO: Trump's lawyer, Alina Habba, asked Carroll about the backlash to her allegation on social media before Trump made his public comments. She also asked Carroll about the publicity and even support she has received in the last 40 years. Habba is expected to continue her questioning this morning as well.

MARTÍNEZ: OK. Now, while Trump's vying for the GOP presidential nomination, he's also using the attention his court cases get as kind of de facto campaign stops. So, Ximena, he's been doing a lot of traveling.

BUSTILLO: Yeah, quite a bit - he did attend the full court day yesterday. The day before, he was only there for half the day before flying to New Hampshire, where he is campaigning for the GOP presidential nomination. Then he came back here yesterday and then was back in New Hampshire last night. He watched Carroll give testimony, often shaking his head and conferring with his lawyer and mumbling. And he did this also during testimony when the judge didn't rule in favor of Habba's objections.

MARTÍNEZ: And what did the judge or even Carroll's lawyers have to say about that?

BUSTILLO: Carroll's legal team actually mentioned twice to the judge that they could hear Trump making remarks, and that the jury might have heard him as well. The judge warned Trump that although it is his right to be in court for this trial, he could forfeit that right if the behavior continues. After yesterday's hearing, Trump claimed that Kaplan, who's the judge, was, quote, "a radical Trump hater," and he once again dismissed Carroll's allegations.

MARTÍNEZ: And quickly, Ximena, are we going to hear from anyone else?

BUSTILLO: Yeah, we're still expected to hear from Ashlee Humphreys, who's an expert witness and testified in the previous trial - she's going to talk about damages - and an editor from Elle magazine. We could also hear from the president himself - the former president himself - but that likely won't come until Monday.

MARTÍNEZ: NPR's Ximena Bustillo - thanks a lot.

BUSTILLO: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Leila Fadel is a national correspondent for NPR based in Los Angeles, covering issues of culture, diversity, and race.
Ximena Bustillo
Ximena Bustillo is a multi-platform reporter at NPR covering politics out of the White House and Congress on air and in print.