(Editor's note: The following does not constitute a legal opinion by Newsmax.)
"Guilty," pronounced many leftists, and more than a few Never-Trump Republicans, on May 9, erroneously conflating a New York jury’s finding of former president Donald J. Trump’s civil liability with a criminal conviction that did not happen and likely could not have been secured under the same "preponderance of the evidence" standard used to evaluate writer E. Jean Carroll’s controversial legal claims against Trump.
Carroll claimed in her 2019 memoir, "What Do We Need Men For?," that sometime in the 1990s, Trump raped her in a sixth-floor dressing room of Bergdorf Goodman, the high-end Manhattan department store, where she says she willingly accompanied Trump to give him her opinion of ladies’ lingerie intended for another woman.
Trump has consistently denied Carroll’s claims, characterizing them as a "hoax" and "con job," with political motivations.
Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit that year against Trump for denying that he raped her, thereby allegedly causing her unspecified damages.
In 2022, she amended her lawsuit to include her rape claim under an exceptional Democratic-sponsored and approved New York state law that opened a one-year window for civil claims from New Yorkers who believe they were past victims of sexual assault, but who otherwise face a statute of limitations on bringing charges.
On May 9, a Manhattan jury unanimously found that Trump did not rape Carroll, but did find that he had "sexually abused" her.
Curiously, it also found that Trump had defamed her by denying her rape allegation, even though the same jury had itself cleared Trump of her rape allegation.
It awarded Carroll about $5 million in damages.
As regularly happens in legal proceedings involving Trump, and often generally in federal courts, in which more than half of Americans no longer express confidence, much was wrong with the case.
Carroll’s rape claim was allowed nearly 30 years after the alleged fact only by Democratic-sponsored legislation introduced on Jan. 6, 2021, the same day as the demonstrations at the U.S. Capitol for which Trump was impeached and acquitted.
It entered effect on Nov. 24, 2022, just nine days after Trump declared his candidacy for the 2024 Republican nomination.
According to a story in The New York Times, published while the trial was in progress, Carroll’s considerable legal expenses were secretly paid with funds provided by Democratic megadonor Reid Hoffmann, a tech billionaire and outspoken Trump critic who has heavily supported anti-Trump political causes, including strategic operations designed to deny Trump nomination for the presidency in 2024.
The verdict came just one month after Trump was criminally indicted by a New York grand jury on unrelated matters that Manhattan District Attorney Alvin S. Bragg, who campaigned for office on an explicit promise to "Get Trump," elevated from misdemeanor records-keeping offenses that are time-barred under New York law to felonies, which are time-barred under federal law, and also outside Bragg’s jurisdiction, without citing any applicable law that Trump allegedly violated.
Bragg’s prosecution is widely seen as politically motivated.
Republican congressional leaders had announced that just one day after the verdict, they would reveal the results of an investigation into President Joe Biden and his scandal-ridden son Hunter, who some expect to be implicated in serious financial crimes involving foreign influence peddling.
Biden currently has the lowest approval ratings of any president at this point in his presidency in 80 years. According to the most recent polls, he trails Trump by six points in a hypothetical 2024 rematch.
The trial judge, Lewis A. Kaplan, was appointed by Bill Clinton, whose wife Hillary was Trump’s 2016 Democratic opponent.
She later falsely claimed that that year’s election results were fraudulent and publicly described Trump during his presidency as a "sexual assaulter."
Trump’s lawyers detected so much bias in Kaplan’s courtroom management that they motioned for him to declare a mistrial.
Kaplan refused to do so, without explanation.
The jury was a group of Trump’s "peers" selected in an electoral district where about 80% of voters cast their ballots against him in his first two presidential campaigns.
Evidence of questionable relevance was introduced against Trump despite objections by his lawyer. Objections Kaplan overruled.
Evidence and arguments favorable to the former president were excluded or fell to objections made by Carroll’s lawyers and sustained by Kaplan.
In this biased environment, neither Carroll nor two witnesses she claims to have told about Trump’s alleged rape of her could recall the date, time, month, or even the exact year of the supposed assault, which Carroll claims took place in either 1995 or 1996.
Carroll admitted that she did not scream, seek medical attention, report the alleged assault to the police, or, until she published her book in 2019, discuss it with anyone other than her two witnesses, who also have no record of it other than their own hearsay, even though a significant part of Carroll’s career involves writing a romance advice column for Elle magazine.
No party to the case could account for the absence of security measures or sales staff during the alleged incident at Bergdorf’s, which normally has both in abundance and is hardly the sort of place that would look favorably upon a man accompanying a woman alone into one of its dressing rooms.
Carroll admitted that she has continued to shop at Bergdorf’s ever since, despite claiming to have suffered trauma of such magnitude there that she requires multimillion-dollar restitution.
According to the outspoken anti-Trump New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg, who attended the trial with open sympathy for Carroll, one of Carroll’s witnesses described the plaintiff in subpoenaed text messages as a "narcissist" who was "loving the adulation" she received for bringing claims against Trump.
Carroll’s story also uncannily resembles the plot of a 2012 episode of "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," in which a fictional female character is raped while trying on lingerie in a dressing room . . . at Bergdorf Goodman.
The show, which broadcasted that episode seven years before Carroll put forward her surprisingly similar story, remains widely available.
In a 2019 CNN interview, Carroll dismissed its similarities to her claims as "a great, huge coincidence," but admitted that "it is a magnificent one, I must say."
It is no coincidence, however, that Trump described the proceedings with considerable understatement as a "very unfair trial" and immediately announced his intention to appeal.
In the meantime, he should consider a defamation suit of his own against Carroll.
After all, in addition to her court complaint, which is legally privileged, for some four years now she has loudly and publicly claimed that Trump "raped" her, only to have even a biased jury in a biased court find that allegation to be not credible.
Regardless of the results, this latest "circus," as Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina describes it, is unlikely to derail Trump’s steady march back to the nomination in a country weary of seeing its institutions of justice weaponized by a fading professional-managerial caste terrified of losing power.
Paul du Quenoy is president of the Palm Beach Freedom Institute. He holds a Ph.D. in history from Georgetown University. Read more — Here.
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