“Truly, epically stupid”: Legal experts say Trump’s defamation suit against Carroll could backfire

“Truly, epically stupid”: Legal experts say Trump’s defamation suit against Carroll could backfire

Former President Donald Trump on Tuesday filed a counterclaim against writer E. Jean Carroll, alleging she defamed him after a jury found him liable of sexual abusing and defaming her last month.

Though Trump was not found liable for rape, Carroll has long claimed that the former presented sexually assaulted her in a department store dressing room in 1996. Trump’s counterclaim focuses on Carroll’s CNN appearance on May 10, a day after the verdict was handed down, in which she doubled down on the rape allegation. The lawsuit accuses Carroll of defaming Trump when she insisted “oh yes he did, oh yes he did,” when responding to a question asking for commentary on the jury ruling that Trump was not liable for rape. 

Trump’s legal team in the filing states that Carroll made “these false statements with actual malice and ill will with an intent to significantly and spitefully harm and attack,” and argues that Trump “has been the subject of significant harm to his reputation, which, in turn, has yielded an inordinate amount of damages sustained as a result.”

“The interview was on television, social media and multiple internet websites, with the intention of broadcasting and circulating these defamatory statements among a significant portion of the public,” the counterclaim adds. 

Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages last month, with $3 million of that sum being allocated to damages incurred by Trump calling Carroll’s allegations a “con job” in an October 2022 statement. The trial Carroll won last month was the second of two lawsuits the longtime columnist had filed against the ex-president. Trump’s Tuesday counterclaim was in response to Carroll’s first suit, which accused the former president of slandering her when she initially came forward in June of 2019. That suit has not gone to trial yet.  

Trump remained steadfast in his denial of Carroll’s claims during a May appearance on a CNN town hall, saying, arguing they were “fake” and “made up.” The ex-president denied having ever met Carroll — despite a photograph of the two together — and called her a “wack job,” while referring to the trial as “a rigged deal.”

Carroll responded to the town hall by submitting an additional filing in Manhattan federal court and asked for a “very substantial” additional amount of money from Trump over the comments.

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“Donald Trump again argues, contrary to both logic and fact, that he was exonerated by a jury that found that he sexually abused E Jean Carroll …” Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan said in a statement. “Four out of the five statements in Trump’s so-called counterclaim were made outside of New York’s one-year statute of limitations. The other statement similarly will not withstand a motion to dismiss.”

“Trump’s filing is thus nothing more than his latest effort to delay accountability for what a jury has already found to be his defamation of E Jean Carroll. But whether he likes it or not, that accountability is coming very soon,” Kaplan said.

MSNBC legal analyst Katie Phang called Trump’s counterclaim “truly, epically STUPID.”

“I don’t think it’s possible to convey, in 280 characters or even 280,000 characters, just how stupid this is. Good Lord,” agreed conservative attorney and frequent Trump critic George Conway.

Conway added that the judge in the case may impose “Rule 11 sanctions” over the counterclaim, referencing the enactment of a rule in which attorneys and parties submit pleadings that are petty or cannot be firmly substantiated.

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about the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit