E. Jean Carroll Promises to ‘Do Something Good’ With Trump Trial Money

E. Jean Carroll Promises to ‘Do Something Good’ With Trump Trial Money

As soon as E. Jean Carroll heard the verdict on Friday — $83.3 million in defamation damages against Donald J. Trump — a world of possibility opened before her: How to use the money?

The amount vastly eclipsed the $5 million awarded to her by a jury last spring in a different trial against Mr. Trump. It could take years before she sees the money, as Mr. Trump has said he will appeal, but she is already considering how she might use the money once she obtains it.

“I’m not going to waste a cent of this,” she said. “We’re going to do something good with it.”

Figuring that out will take some time, she added. But she will splurge on one luxury, she said — for her Great Pyrenees and her pit bull. “I’m going to be able to buy some premium dog food now,” she said.

Ms. Carroll, appearing relaxed and happy in her lawyers’ offices on Saturday, spoke in her first interview since the Manhattan jury’s award in her favor a day earlier.

Ms. Carroll, 80, sued Mr. Trump, 77, for defamation after he called her a liar in June 2019, when she first publicly accused him, in a magazine article, of sexually assaulting her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room decades earlier. Mr. Trump continued to attack Ms. Carroll, in posts on his Truth Social website that lasted right into the trial, as well as in news conferences and on the campaign trail.

After the verdict on Friday, Mr. Trump, issued a new attack on social media: “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon.” But he avoided criticizing Ms. Carroll, a silence that spoke volumes. Ms. Carroll said she was not ready to assume that the former president was finished with her.

“I can’t possibly guess what Donald Trump will ever do or not do,” she said. “Can’t make a guess.”

When told on Saturday that Ms. Carroll would persist and hoped to do good with the money, one of Mr. Trump’s lawyers, Alina Habba, referred a reporter to what she said late Friday: “We did not win today — but we will win.”

Ms. Carroll said that it was not until Saturday morning that she finally began to enjoy what happened. “It was so overpowering yesterday,” she said. “I couldn’t feel the elation.”

“This morning, around 8 or 9, having my first cup of tea, is when I truly felt calm enough to feel what we had accomplished.”

Ms. Carroll said the verdict was a victory for women, especially.

“This win, more than any other thing, when we needed it the most — after we lost the rights over our own bodies in many states — we put out our flag in the ground on this one. Women won this one. I think it bodes well for the future.”

Ms. Carroll praised the lawyers who have litigated her cases for more than four years, resulting in jury awards that have totaled nearly $90 million. Her lead lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan, suggested that Mr. Trump might think more now about the risks of additional attacks on Ms. Carroll.

“He cares about money,” Ms. Kaplan said. “And this is a lot of money to Donald Trump. And I don’t think he wants another judgment at the same amount.”

Ms. Carroll said that, as the trial approached, she was frightened at the prospect of confronting the man whom she had accused of assaulting her decades earlier. Her decision to publicly accuse him led to years of his insults and taunts; he called her a liar and said that he did not know her.

“I was terrified — for weeks ahead,” Ms. Carroll said. But as she began to testify on Jan. 16, with Mr. Trump at the defense table, she said she felt emboldened. “He’s like nothing in front of me,” she said.

She remembered the fable of the emperor: “When you’ve actually faced the man, he’s just a man with no clothes on,” she said. “It’s the people around him that are giving him the power.”

Jurors took less than three hours of deliberation on Friday to strip away some of that power. The verdict included $18.3 million to compensate Ms. Carroll for her ordeal and $65 million in punitive damages after the jury found that Mr. Trump had acted with malice.

As recently as 2018, Ms. Carroll testified during the trial, she was making about $50,000 a year from writing freelance articles.

She said that while she testified, she looked occasionally at Mr. Trump, who was not looking back. She said that answering her lawyer’s questions about Mr. Trump felt satisfying. “I knew he heard me,” Ms. Carroll added.

She said that she felt a special bond with the seven men and two women who had formed the anonymous jury in the trial and who had evinced no clues during the trial as to how they saw the case.

“I felt they were my brothers and sisters on that jury,” Ms. Carroll said. “They were like me. They were New Yorkers.”

Shawn G. Crowley, another of her lawyers, said that after the verdict, the jurors walked by them on the way out of the courtroom, and at least three smiled and nodded at Ms. Carroll.

As Ms. Carroll and her lawyers defend their verdicts on appeal and continue to fight to obtain the full judgment, she said she felt inspired to use the money to make real changes.

“I can’t say what they are yet. We will all talk and come up with a great plan.”

But, she said, her own future — and that of her pets — was secure.

You know, me and the dogs are going to get along just fine in our hovel,” she said, adding, “but we’re going to do something great with this money.”

Kate Christobek and Maria Cramer contributed reporting.

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