For Donald Trump, the timing of this week’s town hall event in New Hampshire was, at a minimum, awkward. On the one hand, it was a day earlier when a jury held the former president liable for sexual abuse and awarded E. Jean Carroll $5 million in damages.
But on the other hand, that meant the Republican had a full day to think about exactly what he would say when the subject came up during the nationally televised broadcast. What’s more, the timing gave Trump’s attorneys more than 24 hours to prepare their client, warning him about potential pitfalls and reminding him what not to say.
If those behind-the-scenes conversations did occur, they apparently didn’t go well.
When CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked the former president whether he wishes he’d testified in his own defense at the recent trial, Trump began by responding, “No. It wouldn’t have made a difference. This is a rigged deal.”
But he then turned his attention to his accuser, insisting Carroll peddled “a fake story,” adding, “[S]he is a whack job.”
Or put another way, literally one day after Carroll won a defamation case against Trump, he thought it’d be a good idea to go on national television and go after her rhetorically once more.
While the Republican audience seemed to enjoy watching the Republican belittle Carroll, her lawyer was less impressed. In fact, The New York Times reported that another civil suit might follow.
Ms. Carroll, 79, is now weighing whether to file a new defamation lawsuit against Mr. Trump, said her lawyer, Roberta A. Kaplan. … Ms. Kaplan, her lawyer, said Thursday that a decision would be made soon on whether Ms. Carroll will file another defamation suit in light of Mr. Trump’s comments on CNN.
“Everything’s on the table, obviously, and we have to give serious consideration to it,” Kaplan told the Times.
For those keeping score, a new lawsuit would be the third such case. Lawsuit #1 was decided by a jury this week. Lawsuit #2 is still pending: As a Politico report explained this week, Carroll “has sued him over comments he made about her in 2019 — a lawsuit distinct from the case she won on Tuesday (which involved sexual assault and defamation for comments he made in 2022). A trial has been delayed as courts have weighed whether Trump can be sued in his personal capacity over comments he made while president.”
Lawsuit #3, for now, remains a course Carroll and her attorney are considering.
For their part, Trump’s lawyers haven’t commented publicly about their client’s “whack job” comments or the possibility of another civil suit. They did, however, notify a court yesterday that they are appealing the jury’s verdict from Tuesday.
Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”