Donald Trump made a brief appearance on the stand during the defamation trial brought by writer E Jean Carroll.
The civil trial centres around the defamatory remarks made by Mr. Trump about Ms. Carroll during his time in the White House in 2019.
It was discovered that he had committed a sexual assault against Ms Carroll in the 1990s, despite his ongoing denial of the incident.
However, due to this reason, the court had to dedicate a significant amount of time to discussing the extent of his testimony on Thursday.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, presiding over the case, emphasised the importance of the former US president focusing on specific topics during his testimony. This request comes after a separate trial found him responsible for the alleged sexual assault against Ms. Carroll.
As a result, the judge and lawyers ended up spending a significant amount of time debating the topics that Mr. Trump would be permitted to discuss, which far exceeded his brief four minutes of testimony.
Judge Kaplan stated that the initial trial had successfully established the relevant facts, leaving only the matter of determining the amount, if any, that Mr. Trump is obligated to pay Ms. Carroll.
He ensured that the current Republican presidential frontrunner had no opportunity to deviate from the agreed terms, preventing any possibility of launching into a monologue or campaigning from the witness stand.
It’s maybe a valuable lesson gleaned from one of Mr. Trump’s previous legal conflicts. During a recent civil fraud trial in New York, Mr. Trump encountered an initial setback when he was denied the opportunity to present his closing argument. The judge in that case inquired about Mr. Trump’s intention to remain concise and focused on the relevant aspects of the case.
Mr Trump delivered a six-minute monologue, expressing his belief that he had been subjected to political persecution.
The defamation trial on Thursday limited the 77-year-old’s freedom to manoeuvre.
When questioned about his deposition, Mr. Trump confidently affirmed his unwavering support, stating, “Absolutely, without a doubt.”
His lawyer, Alina Habba, inquired whether he refuted Ms. Carroll’s allegation. “That’s correct, yes I did,” he replied.
He claimed that she made a statement that he believed to be completely untrue.
However, Judge Kaplan promptly interrupted Mr. Trump and instructed the jury to disregard his previous remark.
Ms Habba inquired about whether the client had given any instructions to harm Ms Carroll. In response, Mr Trump stated that his intention was solely to protect himself, his family, and the presidency. The judge once more ordered that the latter part be removed from the record.
And just like that, the testimony came to an end. As he exited the courtroom, Mr. Trump expressed his discontent, stating, “This is not what America stands for.” This is not the United States.
Earlier in the day, Judge Kaplan cautioned him about his disruptive behaviour during the proceedings. During the incident, he was overheard quietly stating that he had never encountered the individual in question, Ms. Carroll.
However, it does feel somewhat familiar when observing one of Mr. Trump’s trials. During his time in court, he has frequently pushed the boundaries and embraced substantial legal challenges.
Testifying outside of the boundaries set by the judge on Thursday could have potentially resulted in severe consequences for Mr. Trump, including substantial fines or a maximum of five years in prison for perjury.
However, adhering to his unique approach is ensuring that Mr. Trump’s supporters remain engaged and interested in his legal challenges.
And what’s even more significant is that it’s generating substantial media attention during a crucial period for the politician. Following his victory in the New Hampshire primary, the former New York real estate mogul seems poised to secure the Republican presidential nomination.
Ronnell Andersen Jones, a professor of law at the University of Utah, highlighted the significant disparity between Mr. Trump’s legal approach and his campaign tactics in this particular case, according to BBC News.
Although the former president and his lawyers may attempt to persuade the jury that his comments in the White House did not demonstrate “ill will that warrants punitive damages,” it may prove challenging to support this claim given his actions.
“This will be a challenging situation to navigate, considering that the jury is constantly being presented with fresh evidence of the defendant persistently spreading falsehoods outside of the courtroom,” Ms Jones remarked.
The defamation trial is set to continue on Friday at 09:30 ET (14:30 GMT) as closing arguments are presented. It remains uncertain whether Mr. Trump will be in attendance.