Bankruptcy judge says Giuliani can contest $148 million award to Georgia election workers

A bankruptcy judge in New York tells Rudy Giuliani he can seek a second trial to contest the $148 million judgment a jury ordered him to pay to two Georgia election workers but cautions that the request may not be granted. Here are the latest legal developments involving former President Donald Trump seeking to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

Georgia election interference

Judge says Giuliani can request a new trial to challenge $148 million judgment awarded to Georgia election workers

Key players: U.S. bankruptcy Judge Sean Lane, former Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, Giuliani’s lawyer Gary Fischoff, Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss, Freeman and Moss’s attorney Rachel Strickland, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis

  • During a bankruptcy hearing in White Plains, N.Y., on Friday, Lane said Giuliani was entitled to ask for a second trial to decide the damages he owes Moss and Freeman, who he falsely accused of rigging the 2020 election in Joe Biden’s favor, Bloomberg reported.

  • But the judge also noted that a second trial may not be granted to Giuliani and that attempts to use bankruptcy to shield himself from paying the judgment would not likely prove successful.

  • In December, a Washington, D.C., jury ordered Giuliani to pay Moss and Freeman $148 million for repeatedly defaming the two women by falsely claiming they had committed election fraud in 2020.

  • In court on Friday, Strickland said Giuliani had signed a stipulation that acknowledged he made false claims against her clients.

  • Giuliani is also facing a $1.3 billion defamation lawsuit brought by Dominion Voting Systems, who he accused of election interference, and a $1.3 million suit brought by his former lawyer for unpaid legal bills.

  • Fischoff told the judge that there is no “pot of gold at the end of the rainbow” in terms of Giuliani’s ability to pay such large sums.

  • One of 19 people charged by Willis for attempting to overturn the 2020 presidential election results in Georgia, Giuliani spread numerous falsehoods in multiple battleground states about Joe Biden’s victory.

Why it matters: As with Trump’s ongoing defamation lawsuit brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll, punitive damages addressing repeated falsehoods can result in huge monetary sums. While the bankruptcy judge handed Giuliani a partial victory Friday in allowing him to seek a second trial to decide damages to Moss and Freeman, that do-over is not assured.

Recommended reading

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Thursday, Jan. 18

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Northwestern University marketing professor Ashlee Humphreys testifies that it would cost between $7.2 and $12.1 million to rectify the damage to columnist E. Jean Carroll’s reputation caused by former President Donald Trump’s persistent attacks on her character. Rather than return to court, Trump attends his mother-in-law’s funeral in Florida, but Carroll’s lawyers show a video clip shot the day before of him demeaning her following her testimony. Trump’s lawyers file a brief Thursday with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking to block the Colorado Supreme Court from keeping his name from appearing on state ballots due to his efforts to overturn the 2020 election. Here are the latest legal developments involving the former president hoping to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Expert: Repairing damage to E. Jean Carroll’s reputation would cost up to $12.1 million

Key players: U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, columnist E. Jean Carroll, Trump lawyer Alina Habba, Northwestern University marketing professor Ashlee Humphreys

  • On Thursday, Carroll’s lawyers called Humphreys to testify about the amount of money it would cost Carroll to repair the damage to her reputation caused by Trump’s attacks, the New York Daily News reported.

  • Using an analysis of Trump’s reach on social media platforms and the media coverage of his denials that he had sexually assaulted Carroll in 1996, Humphreys estimated that Trump’s claims had resulted in up to 104.1 million audience impressions. Undoing the resulting damage to Carroll’s reputation would, therefore, cost between $7.2 and $12.1 million, she testified.

  • The damage “was severe to her reputation as a journalist, and the costs to repair it are considerable,” Humphreys testified.

  • Trump’s lawyers argued that the former president’s remarks in the case had not been the cause of death threats Carroll received following the release of her memoir detailing Trump’s assault.

  • Carroll is suing Trump for $10 million in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages relating to the fact that Trump has continued to regularly defame her since the release of her 2019 memoir detailing her rape claims.

  • Prior to Humphreys taking the stand, Carroll faced cross examination from Habba, who tried to chip away at Carroll’s claim that Trump’s verbal attacks on her credibility had harmed her reputation and ability to make a living.

  • “No, my status was lowered,” Carroll testified. “I’m partaking in this trial to bring my old reputation and status back.”

  • She also told the jury that while she made as much as $400,000 a year as a journalist in the 1990s, and $60,000 a year in 2019 as a columnist for Elle magazine, she now earns roughly $100,000 a year from her posts on Substack.

  • Habba asked Carroll whether she was more “well-known” following Trump’s denials that he had assaulted Carroll than before, implying that notoriety had benefited her career.

  • “Yes, but I am hated by a lot more people,” Carroll replied.

  • Trump, who clashed with Kaplan a day earlier, was not in the New York courtroom Thursday. Instead, he attended the funeral of his mother-in-law in Florida.

  • But jurors did hear from the former president Thursday. Carroll’s lawyers played a video clip of Trump addressing cameras yesterday in lower Manhattan, where he repeated his claims that he “never knew” Carroll and that her account about being assaulted in the changing room was “a made-up fabricated story.”

  • Trump is expected to testify in the case on Monday.

Why it matters: The case will decide how much more money Trump will be required to pay Carroll, if any. Because a jury has already found Trump liable for having sexually assaulted Carroll and ordered him to pay $5 million for defamatory comments made about her in 2022, he could soon find himself hit with a very costly verdict in the second trial.

Jan. 6 election interference

Trump’s lawyers file Supreme Court brief on Colorado ballot ban

Key players: U.S. Supreme Court, Colorado Supreme Court

  • On Thursday, Trump’s lawyers submitted a brief with the high court seeking a reversal of a decision by the Colorado Supreme Court to ban Trump from state primary ballots on the grounds that Section 3 of the 14th Amendment bars him from holding office again, Reuters reported.

  • Section 3 states that no person who has “previously taken an oath” of office such as “an officer of the United States” who later “engaged in insurrection or rebellion” is allowed to hold office again.

  • “The Court should reverse the Colorado decision because President Trump is not even subject to section 3, as the President is not an ‘officer of the United States’ under the Constitution,” the brief filed Thursday states.

  • The brief continues: “And even if President Trump were subject to section 3 he did not ‘engage in’ anything that qualifies as ‘insurrection.’”

  • But a lower court judge in Colorado concluded the opposite.

  • Colorado’s Republican primary will be held on March 5.

  • The Supreme Court has scheduled oral arguments in the case for Feb. 8.

  • On Thursday, more than 40 U.S. senators signed a brief to the Supreme Court asking it to keep Trump on state ballots in the face of 14th Amendment challenges.

Why it matters: The Supreme Court’s ultimate decision will impact rulings by the Colorado Supreme Court and Maine’s secretary of state on whether the Constitution bars Trump from holding office again.

Recommended reading

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Wednesday, Jan. 17

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Judge Lewis Kaplan warns former President Donald Trump that he could be removed from the courtroom if he continues to loudly comment on the testimony being given by columnist E. Jean Carroll. The rebuke comes after the judge in the second civil defamation lawsuit brought by Carroll had instructed Trump’s lawyers to have their client “keep his voice down” while Carroll testified. Trump, who is in court in New York Wednesday watching Carroll on the witness stand, could be heard commenting on her answers. Here are the latest legal developments surrounding the former president looking to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Judge warns Trump he can be tossed from courtroom

Key players: Judge Lewis Kaplan, columnist E. Jean Carroll, Trump lawyers Alina Habba and Michael Madaio, Carroll lawyer Shawn Crowley

  • In a terse exchange Wednesday following a request by Kaplan to have Trump keep his voice down as Carroll testifies, the judge warned Trump that he could be removed from the courtroom.

  • “Mr. Trump has the right to be present here,” Kaplan said following another complaint by Crowley. “That right can be forfeited and it can be forfeited if he is disruptive, which what has been reported to me consists of. And if he disregards court orders, Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial.”

  • “I understand you’re probably eager for me to do that,” Kaplan added.

  • “I would love it,” Trump responded to the judge, according to court reporters.

  • Kaplan then replied: “I know you would. You just can’t control yourself in this circumstance apparently.”

  • Earlier, after Crowley complained that Trump could be heard “loudly saying things that are false” during Carroll’s testimony Wednesday in the second civil defamation trial against him, the judge addressed Trump’s lawyers, the Associated Press reported.

  • “I’m just going to ask Mr. Trump to take special care to keep his voice down when he’s conferring with counsel so that the jury does not overhear it,” Kaplan told Habba and Madaio.

  • As Carroll recounted for the jury how Trump “shattered” her reputation by repeatedly denying her allegation that Trump had raped her in the changing room of a New York department store in 1996, Trump was heard saying, “It’s false,” and other comments.

  • “I’m here because Donald Trump assaulted me and when I wrote about it, he said it never happened. He lied and shattered my reputation,” Carroll testified.

  • “He lied last month. He lied on Sunday. He lied yesterday. And I am here to get my reputation back,” Carroll added.

  • In May, a jury found that Trump had sexually assaulted Carroll and later defamed her in 2022 by denying her account of the encounter that appeared in a memoir published in 2019. They awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.

  • The second trial concerns a statement issued by Trump in 2019, when he was president, alleging that Carroll made up the story to “sell a new book.”

  • Carroll testified that Trump’s statement set off a frenzy among his supporters that resulted in her receiving numerous death threats.

  • Carroll, whose lawyers noted in their opening statement that Trump continues to defame their client, is seeking an additional $10 million in compensatory damages, as well as millions more in punitive damages.

Why it matters: Kaplan has shown little patience with Trump’s courtroom theatrics nor his lawyers’ attempts to dismiss or delay the trial. The case is likely to wrap up early next week and may well prove very expensive for Trump.

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Tuesday, Jan. 16

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In her opening statement Tuesday, E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer Shawn Crowley tells the jury in former President Donald Trump’s second defamation trial that he “unleashed his followers to go after her” by continually denying her claim that he raped her in a department store changing room in the 1990s. Judge Lewis Kaplan tells prospective jurors “it has been determined already that Mr. Trump did sexually assault Ms. Carroll.” Here are the latest legal developments surrounding the former president who is seeking to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

E. Jean Carroll defamation

Trump ‘unleashed his followers to go after’ Carroll, her lawyer tells jury

Key players: Judge Lewis Kaplan, columnist E. Jean Carroll, Carroll attorney Shawn Crowley, Trump lawyer Alina Habba

  • In her opening statement Tuesday in the second civil defamation lawsuit brought against Trump, Crowley said the former president had “unleashed his followers to go after” Carroll “to threaten her life.”

  • “Donald Trump was president when he made those statements, and he used the world’s biggest microphone to attack Ms. Carroll, humiliate her and to destroy her reputation,” Crowley told the jury in the case that will decide how much more money, if any, Trump will owe Carroll.

  • Crowley noted that even as Trump sat in the courtroom earlier in the day, defamatory messages continued to be posted to his social media account.

  • “How much money will it take to make him stop?” Crowley asked the jury. “He kept up those very same lies even after a federal jury sat in this courtroom and unanimously found that he sexually assaulted her and defamed her.”

  • On his Truth Social account Tueday morning, messages attributed to Trump called Carroll’s allegation that he raped her in a department store changing room in the mid-1990s “fabricated” and “attempted extortion,” the Associated Press reported.

  • Habba has said that the evidence in the case will show that Trump did not ruin Carroll’s reputation, and that she continued to find career success following the alleged attack.

  • Carroll, who in May was awarded $5 million by a jury, is seeking another $10 million in compensatory damages as well as millions more in punitive damages for defamatory remarks Trump made about Carroll in 2019, when he was president.

  • Trump left the courtroom Tuesday prior to opening statements. The judge has agreed to allow him to testify on Monday in the case, even though arguments are expected to conclude this week.

Why it matters: Because a jury already found that Trump had sexually abused and defamed Carroll, his continued assertions that she lied about the attack in a department store changing room open him up to further legal action.

Judge: ‘It has been determined already that Mr. Trump did sexually assault Ms. Carroll’

Key players: Judge Lewis Kaplan, columnist E. Jean Carroll

  • With Trump looking on during jury selection on Tuesday, Kaplan informed the prospective jurors in the civil lawsuit that the case before them would not revisit the question of whether Trump sexually assaulted Carroll in the mid-1990s in the changing room of a New York department store, ABC News reported.

  • “The court determined in a previous decision that Mr. Trump is liable for defamation,” Kaplan said. “For purposes of this trial it has been determined already that Mr. Trump did sexually assault Ms. Carroll, that he knew when he made these statements about Ms. Carroll … that they were false or with reckless disregard.”

  • In May, a Manhattan jury ruled that Trump had assaulted Carroll and then defamed her in 2022 by claiming that the incident never happened

  • “This woman is not my type!” Trump wrote in a social media post calling Carroll’s claims “a hoax and a lie.”

  • The jury sided with Carroll and awarded her $5 million in damages.

  • The new case will determine whether comments Trump made in 2019, when he was president, also constituted defamation.

  • “She is trying to sell a new book — that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section. Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda,” Trump said in the 2019 statement about Carroll’s account of the assault.

  • Kaplan also assured the jury pool that their identities would not be made public.

  • “Neither your names nor the names of the jurors who are ultimately selected nor any other identifying information will be made public,” Kaplan said.

Why it matters: With the earlier court decision, the question before the second jury is much more simple to decide. Kaplan has indicated that the trial could be over in a week’s time. Should the jury rule against Trump a second time, he could owe Carroll millions more in damages.

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Monday, Jan. 15

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Adult film star Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, tells her podcast audience that she is “set to testify” in former President Donald Trump’s hush money trial in New York in March. Trump is charged with 34 felonies in the case and has pleaded not guilty. Here are the latest legal developments for the Republican who hopes to be reelected to the White House in 2024.

New York hush money

Stormy Daniels declares she is ‘set to testify’ in Trump hush money trial

Key players: Adult film star Stormy Daniels, Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen

  • On Sunday, Daniels said on her podcast that she was “set to testify” in Trump’s hush money trial in New York that begins on March 25, CBS News reported.

  • “Obviously, things have been next-level crazy, since I am set to testify in, at this point in time, March — obviously, that can change at any moment — in the hush money case,” Daniels said on the podcast.

  • Two civil cases against Trump have already been heard since he left the White House, and jury selection for a third will begin on Tuesday. The hush money trial is the first of four criminal cases that could be heard during the Republican presidential primary.

  • In March 2023, Trump made history by becoming the first former president to be indicted on criminal charges. He is charged with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in order to hide a payment to Daniels in 2016 for $130,000 that Daniels alleges was made to cover up an alleged extramarital affair that took place in 2006.

  • Trump has pleaded not guilty to the charges and denies that he ever had the affair with Daniels.

  • Daniels has detailed having sex with Trump in 2006 in a memoir titled Full Disclosure and in media interviews.

  • Cohen, who testified before the Manhattan grand jury about making the $130,000 payment to Daniels on Trump’s behalf, will also testify in the case.

Why it matters: Daniels will certainly be asked on the witness stand to revisit the details of the alleged affair with Trump. As this is a criminal trial, Trump will be required to be present for that testimony.

Sherri Crump

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