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Trump walks out of court trial during closing arguments


Donald Trump has walked out of his own defamation trial in New York in the middle of closing arguments.

The former president has already been found to have defamed writer E Jean Carroll for comments he made about her in 2019 while he was president.

The jury in the case must now decide how much Mr Trump must pay in damages.

But on Friday, he left court during closing arguments by Ms Carroll’s lawyer, who said Mr Trump was a liar who thought rules did not apply to him.

Prior to his swift departure, Mr Trump was seen shaking his head as lawyer Roberta Kaplan repeatedly brought up that Mr Trump had sexually assaulted Ms Carroll. Mr Trump was found liable for the sexual assault in a separate civil trial last year.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is not related to Ms Carroll’s lawyer, told the court that the record “will reflect that Mr Trump rose and walked out of the courtroom”.

During Ms Kaplan’s closing arguments, she told the court that Ms Carroll’s reputation had been severely harmed by the former president’s comments denying he sexually assaulted her.

“This case is also about punishing Donald Trump,” Ms Kaplan said, adding: “This trial is about getting him to stop once and for all”.

She said that Mr Trump had “continued to defame Ms Carroll even as this trial was ongoing”.

A civil trial last year found that Mr Trump had sexually assaulted Ms Carroll, a magazine columnist, in a New York department store in the 1990s. That jury also found him liable for defamation for calling her accusations a lie – and he was ordered to pay her about $5m (£4m) in damages.

Despite that ruling, he continues to regularly deny any wrongdoing and even knowing Ms Carroll.

“I don’t even know who this woman is – I have no idea who she is, or where she came from. This is another scam… it’s a political witch hunt,” Mr Trump said in the early hours of Friday morning on his Truth Social media platform.

The jury in this case will decide how much Mr Trump must pay Ms Carroll for his comments.

Ms Carroll has asked for $10m – more money than the previous trial because she argues his comments as a sitting president hurt her more.

‘Sit down’

In her closing arguments on Friday, Mr Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba argued the jury should award Ms Carroll no damages, saying her arguments have “more holes than Swiss cheese”.

She said Mr Trump “should not have to pay” for threats made on Twitter against Ms Carroll, adding: “He does not condone them. He did not direct them.”

Ms Carroll’s lawyers previously told the court that Mr Trump’s statements unleashed a torrent of death threats, rape threats, and online vitriol towards her.

Ms Habba told the court that Ms Carroll was happy to have the fame, claiming Ms Carroll now makes more money than she did in 2019, when the defamatory comments were made.

She also sought to portray Ms Carroll as a “scandalous” character.

The jury will deliberate after Friday’s closing arguments, and the pressure of that eventual outcome has caused significant friction in the courtroom.

Before starting her final arguments, Ms Habba tried to introduce social media tweets that were not already in evidence, but the judge would not allow it.

After a fiery back-and-forth, Judge Kaplan said: “Ms Habba, you are on the verge of spending some time in the lock-up, now sit down”.

Ms Habba, who has repeatedly traded barbs with the judge during this civil defamation trial, was heard swearing under her breath away from the microphone as she sat down, according to the BBC’s US partner CBS News.

The pair also shared multiple tense moments on Thursday, in the lead up to Mr Trump taking the stand to testify.

His testimony lasted mere minutes because of strict rules on what he could say.