Donald Trump repeatedly shook his head in disgust as a New York judge told potential jurors in his defamation trial that he sexually assaulted columnist E. Jean Carroll.
The former president, 77, was in a Manhattan courtroom on Tuesday just hours after his landslide victory in the Iowa Republican caucus.
Columnist Carroll’s lawyers want Trump to pay $10million in damages for calling her a liar after she claimed he raped her in a dressing room in a luxury department store in 1996.
A previous civil jury has already found him liable for sexually abusing her at Bergdorf’s, a luxury department store in Manhattan, in 1996 after they had a chance meeting outside. Trump is appealing.
In court on Tuesday Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba got into a dramatic back-and-forth with Judge Lewis Kaplan for refusing to delay the trial and potential jurors were asked a series of questions about their politics.
The judge asked the pool of potential jurors whether anyone felt that ‘Mr Trump is being treated unfairly by the court system in the United States’.
Three jurors stood up to say they agreed with the statement.
Trump himself also raised his hand.
In this courtroom sketch, prospective jurors file into the courtroom as Donald Trump, third left, stands surrounded by his defense team. Alina Habba, fourth left, Trump’s lead defense attorney, stands beside him. E. Jean Carroll, background second from right, stands with her attorney Roberta Kaplan, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024, in New York
In this courtroom sketch, former President Donald Trump, right, turns to look at an anonymous prospective juror, standing left, during questions posed by Judge Lewis Kaplan in the jury selection process, in Federal Court, in New York, Tuesday, Jan. 16, 2024
E. Jean Carroll arrives in court in Manhattan for the $10million defamation fraud trial against Donald Trump
Trump entered the court in his motorcade through the underground garage
As the dramatic hearing began, Trump stood as the potential jurors entered the court and looked on as they took their seats.
Carroll stared at the floor, looking briefly towards the jurors.
Judge Kaplan told the jurors: ‘You’ve been summoned for possible service on a jury in a civil case.
‘This case is between a writer and advice columnist, E. Jean Carroll, and former President Donald J. Trump’.
The judge told the prospective jurors it was ‘very important you be candid’ when answering questions to ensure impartiality.
He said that the jurors would be anonymous and only referred to them by the number they were given by the court.
Those who were chosen to be on the jury would be picked up from collection points and brought into the underground garage of the courthouse.
ormer US President and Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump attends a watch party during the 2024 Iowa Republican presidential caucuses in Des Moines, Iowa, on January 15, 2024
Jurors should not reveal their real name even to other jurors and shouldn’t tell their families they were serving on this case.
The reason was to ‘protect all of you from any unwanted attention, harassment and invasions of your privacy’, the judge said.
Judge Kaplan gave the jury a summary of the case and said that Carroll sued Trump over statements he made in June 2019 after she accused him of sexually assaulting her in the mid 1990s.
At this Trump shook his head in disagreement.
Judge Kaplan said: ‘In the statements that were published by Mr Trump in 2019 Mr Trump denied Miss Carrol’s accusation, stated he never met her and didn’t know who she was, and she made up her story about Mr Trump to help her sell a new book.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, a United States district judge serving on the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York
‘For reasons that I’ll explain later, this trial is limited to the issue of the money damages, if any, that Miss Carroll should receive for those publications.
‘The reason is because the court determined in a previous decision that Mr Trump is liable for defamation on those two occasions.
‘It has been determined that Mr Trump did sexually assault Miss Carroll, that he knew when he made statements about Miss Carroll that the statements were false and he made them with reckless disregard as to whether they were true or false’.
At this Trump shook his head again in disagreement.
Judge Kaplan said that Carroll alleges she suffered ‘reputational and professional harm.’
Judge Kaplan asked potential jurors if, having heard the summary of the case, they were unable to be impartial. Three jurors raised their hands and were excused.
Journalist E. Jean Carroll arrives at Federal court for her second Civil Defamation Trial against former president Donald J. Trump in New York, New York, USA, 16 January 2024
Among the potential jurors was a woman who did PR work for Trump’s daughter Ivanka in 2017 and 2018, when she was an advisor.
When asked if any jurors had worked for Trump, one man said that he had been a US Navy officer, apparently referring to when he was President.
Three potential jurors put their hands up when asked if they had donated to Trump’s political campaign or PAC.
Several said that they had donated to campaigns for Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
One male juror confirmed that he had followed Trump on social media and had attended a campaign rally for him.
That same man agreed when asked if he thought the ‘2020 election was stolen’, along with a female juror.
Nobody raised their hand when they were asked if they were members of extremist groups including the QAnon movement, Antifa, the Communist Party of the United States and the Ku Klux Klan.
No prospective jurors said they were a supporter of or belonged to the Proud Boys, the Oath Keepers or the Boogaloo Boys, groups which were involved in the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th 2021, which was encouraged by Trump.
E Jean Carroll arrives for her defamation trial against Former President Donald Trump at New York Federal Court on January 16, 2024 in New York City
Nobody put their hand up when asked if they used Truth Social, Trump’s social media platform.
Surveying the room, Judge Kaplan said that ‘a lot of hands’ went up when he asked the jury pool if they had heard about Trump’s four criminal cases.
One juror said that this would make it hard for them to be fair during the trial and they were excused.
Several jurors stood up when asked to indicate if they had watched The Apprentice, the reality TV show he used to host, but none said it would interfere with their ability to be impartial.
Among the other questions were whether jurors had strong feelings about the MeToo movement.