(NEW YORK) — Repairing the damage to writer E. Jean Carroll’s reputation caused by then-President Donald Trump’s Oct. 12, 2022, social media post that allegedly defamed her could cost up to $2.7 million, a marketing expert testified Thursday in Carroll’s defamation and battery case against the former president.
Carroll, who brought the lawsuit in November, alleges that Trump defamed her in his Truth Social post by calling her allegations “a Hoax and a lie” and saying “This woman is not my type!” when he denied her claim that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s.
The former Elle magazine columnist added a charge of battery under a recently adopted New York law that allows adult survivors of sexual abuse to sue their alleged attacker regardless of the statute of limitations. Trump has denied all allegations that he raped Carroll or defamed her.
Northwestern University professor Ashlee Humphrey testified Thursday that Trump’s post, in which he called Carroll’s claim a “con job,” was viewed between 13 and 18 million times, and she estimated that about 5 million users believed its content.
Humphreys told the jury that although Trump posted his statement solely on his Truth Social platform, “it appeared widely” throughout the mass media.
Repairing Carroll’s reputation through a publicity campaign would cost between $368,000 and $2.7 million, Humphreys testified.
The testimony is the first that speaks to a potential damage award if the jury finds Trump liable for defamation or battery. The nine-member jury of six men and three women is weighing Carroll’s defamation and battery claims and deciding potential monetary damages.
On cross-examination, Humphreys agreed that Trump’s views of Carroll’s rape allegation were well-known by the time he made the post in October 2022.
“The horse was kind of out of the barn,” defense attorney Perry Brandt said.
Earlier in the day, the jury viewed clips from Trump’s videotaped deposition, including the moment when he was shown a photograph of Carroll from the 1980s and said, “That’s Marla,” momentarily confusing his rape accuser for his second wife, Marla Maples.
Carroll’s attorneys argued that belies Trump’s assertion that Carroll is not his type.
Asked during the deposition about the so-called “Access Hollywood” video in which Trump is heard bragging about how he grabs and kisses women without consent, Trump was seen dismissing the remarks as “locker room talk.”
Trump was also seen on the deposition video calling Carroll a “nut job.”
On Wednesday, defense attorney Joe Tacopina told Judge Lewis Kaplan that Trump would not be mounting a defense in the case. The case’s final witness was expected to be Roberta Myers, former editor of Elle magazine, where Carroll used to write her advice column.
Summations are expected Monday, with jury deliberations expected to start Tuesday.
Carroll’s lawsuit is her second against Trump related to her rape allegation.
She previously sued Trump in 2019 after the then-president denied her rape claim by telling The Hill that Carroll was “totally lying,” saying, “I’ll say it with great respect: No. 1, she’s not my type. No. 2, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” That defamation suit has been caught in a procedural back-and-forth over the question of whether Trump, as president, was acting in his official capacity as an employee of the federal government when he made those remarks.
If Trump is determined to have been acting as a government employee, the U.S. government would substitute as the defendant in that suit — which means that case would go away, since the government cannot be sued for defamation.
This month’s trial is taking place as Trump seeks the White House for a third time, while facing numerous legal challenges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, his handling of classified material after leaving the White House, and possible attempts to interfere in Georgia’s 2020 vote. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said last week she would decide whether to file criminal charges against Trump or his allies this summer.
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