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Federal jury finds Trump liable for battery and defamation in E. Jean Carroll trial

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

A jury has sided with E. Jean Carroll. She is the writer who accused former President Trump of sexual assault and defamation.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

The jury found the leading Republican presidential candidate liable for sexual abuse and found he should pay $5 million. Trump says he will appeal, even as he continues his bid to reclaim the White House.

MARTIN: NPR's Andrea Bernstein covered the case, and she is with us now.

Good morning, Andrea.

ANDREA BERNSTEIN, BYLINE: Good morning.

MARTIN: So for people who missed it, could you describe how all this happened yesterday and what the jury said?

BERNSTEIN: It happened very quickly, in under three hours. Carroll had sued under New York's new Adult Survivors Act, saying Trump had thrown her against the wall in a department store dressing room in the 1990s and sexually assaulted her. Under that law, Carroll had to prove it was more likely than not that Trump raped her or sexually abused or forcibly touched her. And the jury did not find rape, but it did find sexual abuse. And it found that when Carroll went public decades later and Trump said she is not my type and called her a liar, he defamed her.

MARTIN: How did Trump respond? I take it he's still insisting that he doesn't know her or didn't know her.

BERNSTEIN: Right. He says he didn't know her and that he will appeal. That is the difficulty here. A jury ruled it was defamation to say Carroll was a liar. But Trump will likely appeal by saying her story isn't true. Here's his lawyer, Joe Tacopina, outside of court yesterday.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JOE TACOPINA: Obviously, you know, he's firm in his belief, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City based on the jury pool. And I think one could argue that that's probably an accurate assessment based on what happened today.

MARTIN: And what was E. Jean Carroll's reaction?

BERNSTEIN: She left the courthouse without commenting, arm in arm with her lawyer as women yelled thank you, E. Jean. Later, she issued a statement saying, today the world finally knows the truth. This victory is not just for me, but for every woman who has suffered because she was not believed. And her trial was in some sense a verdict not just for her, but for those who were outraged when Trump was caught on tape boasting he liked to grab women by the genitals. That "Access Hollywood" tape figured large in the trial. E. Jean Carroll's lawyer, Mike Ferrara, had said during closing statements it was a confession, and the jury apparently agreed.

MARTIN: So Trump is now going to have to navigate a presidential campaign and continue his legal fights. And I do want to mention, that's not the only one. So tell us about what else he is facing.

BERNSTEIN: So as president, Trump was impeached twice, though he was acquitted both times. His company has been convicted for multiple counts of felony fraud. He himself has been indicted for allegedly falsifying business records in New York. And he is also being sued by the New York attorney general for $250 million for a separate massive alleged fraud scheme. And then there are at least two more active criminal investigations, one in Georgia and special counsel Jack Smith's investigation. Trump has denied wrongdoing in all of this.

MARTIN: As quickly as you can, how might that play out during a presidential campaign?

BERNSTEIN: The next trial in New York is scheduled for October, which is prime Republican debating season usually. That's the civil fraud case. The hush-money criminal case is targeted to start in February or March, the middle of primary season. And we don't know if there'll be further indictments - a lot of legal action to schedule around. That'll be a stress test for the rule of law.

MARTIN: That is NPR's Andrea Bernstein.

Andrea, thank you.

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

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
Andrea Bernstein