As he arrived at a federal courthouse in lower Manhattan, Donald Trump’s Truth Social account released an avalanche of posts attacking E Jean Carroll, who is suing the former president for defamation.
It’s the second trial stemming from defamation claims brought by Ms Carroll, and a jury already found him civilly responsible for sexually abusing her in the 1990s. He continues to claim that he never met her and has repeatedly mocked and ridiculed Ms Carroll in the wake of that verdict.
Ms Carroll was awarded $5m in that trial. A second trial stems from his remarks about Ms Carroll while he was still in the White House, made in response to her allegations that he raped her years earlier. The judge overseeing the case issued a pretrial judgment last year finding him liable for defamation, leaving a trial to determine how much he will pay.
In a series of posts on his Truth Social on Tuesday, as he was arriving in the courtroom and while he was seated with his attorneys, without his phone, Mr Trump repeated false claims that are at the centre of the defamation cases against him, including his claim that he has never met Ms Carroll, and called the case an “unAmerican injustice” and that he was “wrongfully accused”.
He called the case “attempted EXTORTION” based on “fabricated lies and political shenanigans”.
The former president has baselessly cast the trial – among a growing list of legal challenges, including criminal charges and lawsuits that threaten his eligibility for 2024 ballots and his ability to do business in the state of New York – as part of a conspiracy from Democratic officials and President Joe Biden to keep him out of the White House.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing the trial, “should put this whole corrupt, Crooked Joe Biden-directed Election Interference attack on me immediately to rest,” Mr Trump wrote.
Ms Carroll seeks $10m in compensatory damages and punitive damages to be determined by a jury.
His appearance in the courtroom on Tuesday is his second in-person appearance within a week, after he joined his attorneys and spoke out from the defence table during closing remarks at his civil trial on fraud allegations within his Trump Organization empire. He was not obligated to attend either hearings, but he continues to falsely claim that he is being pulled off the campaign trail to attend them.
In letters to the judge last week, attorneys for Ms Carroll warned that Mr Trump wants to use the proceedings to “sow chaos” in the case, pointing to his behaviour at his fraud trial.
Under the trial’s narrow scope, Mr Trump cannot testify that he did not sexually assault Ms Carroll or claim that he does not know her, or “make reference to a wide range of other prejudicial, irrelevant, or otherwise inadmissible matters that have featured prominently in his recent public statements about the case,” Ms Carroll’s attorneys wrote.
“If Mr Trump appears at this trial, whether as a witness or otherwise, his recent statements and behavior strongly suggest that he will seek to sow chaos,” attorneys wrote. “Indeed, he may well perceive a benefit in seeking to poison these proceedings, where the only question for the jury is how much more he will have to pay in damages for defaming Ms Carroll. This Court should make clear from the outset that Mr Trump is forbidden from engaging in such antics and will suffer consequences if he does so.”
An attorney representing Mr Trump in this case and in his New York criminal trial on charges of falsifying business records announced he was withdrawing from the former president’s legal team one day before the beginning of the defamation trial.
High-profile defence attorney Joe Tacopina filed court documents accouncing his withdrawal on Monday. He did not provide a reason to The Independent.