Trump Is Playing With Absolute Fire In The Carroll Case

INSIDE: Jack Smith ... Peter Navarro ... Nikki Haley
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 16: E Jean Carroll departs from her defamation trial against former President Donald Trump at New York Federal Court on January 16, 2024 in New York City. The trial is to determine how mu... NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 16: E Jean Carroll departs from her defamation trial against former President Donald Trump at New York Federal Court on January 16, 2024 in New York City. The trial is to determine how much money in damages the former president must pay Carroll as a result of public comments that he made both while he was president and after the jury's verdict in May. Carroll was awarded $5 million in damages in May from the previous lawsuit. (Photo by Stephanie Keith/Getty Images) MORE LESS
Start your day with TPM.
Sign up for the Morning Memo newsletter

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

Is Trump About To Get Rudy’d?

Carroll II, the second trial of Donald Trump for defaming E. Jean Carroll by lying about his sexual assault of her, got underway in Manhattan yesterday, and it’s shaping up to be a colossal financial threat to the former president.

Having lost in Carroll I, where a jury concluded he had raped Carroll, Trump is barred from contesting the fact of the rape in Carroll II. The only question is how big are her damages for his defamation.

While jury verdicts are notoriously difficult to predict, this case has the potential to do to Trump what a DC federal jury did to Rudy Giuliani in the defamation case brought against him by Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss. The Giuliani jury reached a verdict against him of $148 million, including punitive damages.

Like Giuliani, Trump has been defiant throughout the two Carroll trials, constantly repeating the defamatory statements with impunity, and persisting in attacking the plaintiff even while the trial was underway.

Trump was in court Tuesday as jury selection got underway, but his social media operation launched what was clearly a pre-planned full-scale attack on Carroll, including repeating the defamation. (It was perhaps not a coincidence that a key Trump lawyer resigned the night before.)

Trump is risking a substantial punitive damages award by continuing to attack his accuser. It does appear to be a calculated risk, not merely shooting from the hip inadvisably. And that should only fuel the arguments Carroll can make to the jury about how severely it should punish Trump for his misconduct.

In opening statements, Carroll’s lawyers seized on the morning’s developments to urge the jury to make Trump pay until it hurt enough to get him to stop defaming Carroll:

Carroll is expected to testify at trial today.

Trump Miscellany

  • In the first E. Jean Carroll case, the Second Circuit Court has rejected Trump’s appeal that he was protected from lawsuit by presidential immunity.
  • The high court in New York denied Trump’s appeal of the gag order imposed on him in the NY civil fraud trial.
  • Politico: Trump signals he will invoke executive privilege to block testimony in Jeff Clark’s disciplinary proceedings in DC.
  • The full DC Circuit Court of Appeals has declined to reconsider the ruling that gave Special Counsel Jack Smith access to Donald Trump’s Twitter account – but all four Republican-appointed judges on the court filed an unusual “statement” (not a dissent) complaining that executive privilege had not been raised on appeal.
  • New filing from Trump in the Mar-a-Lago classified documents case seeks to paint Trump as the victim of the intelligence community and a politically motivated prosecution:

While the 68-page filing was formally a request by Mr. Trump’s lawyers to the office of the special counsel, Jack Smith, to provide them with reams of additional information that they believe can help them fight the charges, it often read more like a list of political talking points than a brief of legal arguments.

Navarro Bid For New Trial Fails

The trial judge rejected Trump White House official Peter Navarro’s last-ditch bid to avoid being sentenced for contempt of Congress on Jan. 25.

Revisiting Iowa

I noticed an undercurrent of quibbling yesterday that the Iowa caucus is small and irrelevant, that Trump received a minuscule number of votes compared to the size of the national electorate, and that his Iowa caucus win was too thin a reed upon which to rest broad pronouncements about his viability as a candidate.

In isolation, each of those things has an element of truth to it. But they’re not in isolation. They’re in the context of there being no viable opposition to Trump within the Republican Party right now. This is the contest for the GOP nomination, and there’s no one who can dare attack Trump let alone mount an effective challenge to him. Period.

You can conjure up make-believe scenarios where the GOP electorate suddenly sees the light but to whom does Trump’s votes go? At present, no one has proven their ability to stand in for Trump. If Nikki Haley were to somehow pull of the unexpected and defeat Trump in New Hampshire next week … we can revisit this assessment.

2024 Ephemera

  • The Messenger: The Inside Story of How Ron DeSantis Got Crushed by Donald Trump
  • Politico: Trump’s win in Iowa shows big strengths and hidden warning signs
  • Good point:

Texas Border Stunt Is Getting Dangerous

TPM’s Josh Kovensky on the latest developments in Texas and at the Supreme Court:

The confrontation between federal power and an unruly state government came to a head this weekend after Gov. Greg Abbott (R) and Texas state lawmakers have spent years laying the groundwork to annex what has, until now, been a core federal responsibility: securing the U.S.-Mexico border.

Now, Texas is physically blocking border patrol agents from accessing parts of the frontier, an extraordinary usurpation of federal authority. …

The entire confrontation is reaching a head in part because of a December injunction from a federal appeals court which bans federal agents from removing barriers placed by the state of Texas. The Biden administration is appealing, and dropped a flurry of filings before the Supreme Court this weekend about the confrontation.

Pay Close Attention To The Supreme Court Today

The Supreme Court’s conservative supermajority gets a chance to take a hatchet to the administrative state in oral arguments today. TPM’s Kate Riga will be covering the threat to the landmark Chevron decision.

Biden Summons Congressional Leaders To White House

The meeting today will focus on the stalled talks over aid to Ukraine and Israel and its unfortunate companion issue: security at the U.S. southern border.

The Price of Netanyahu’s Ambition

The New Yorker’s David Remnick draws on his trip to Israel in late December to assess the post-Oct. 7 landscape through the prism of the Netanyahu family.


This brings it all together: The E. Jean Carroll trial and the willingness to let Trump off the hook to somehow try to wrest his voters away from him without criticizing or confronting him. If Nikki Haley is the last best hope to keep Trump from the GOP nomination, then god help us.

Do you like Morning Memo? Let us know!

Latest Morning Memo

Notable Replies

  1. Gotta take advantage of being frist, right?


    ETA: Not mentioned in the lead article: Carroll was awarded $5 million in Carroll I. I hope the jury awards her $500 million for Carroll II.

  2. Then a miracle occurs…


  3. And what do I see when I wake up today?

    First this…

    Second this…

    And third this…

  4. Wonder if TMFWWNBN is tired of all his “winning” yet?

Continue the discussion at

1230 more replies


Avatar for josephebacon Avatar for jnbenson Avatar for mondfledermaus Avatar for brutus1910 Avatar for trnc Avatar for steviedee111 Avatar for sniffit Avatar for ralph_vonholst Avatar for lastroth Avatar for stradivarius50t3 Avatar for leftcoaster Avatar for pshah Avatar for thunderclapnewman Avatar for southerndem Avatar for 21zna9 Avatar for castor_troy Avatar for evave2 Avatar for saeomon Avatar for txlawyer Avatar for zenicetus Avatar for dicktater Avatar for Hatmama Avatar for Citizen1 Avatar for iafixture

Continue Discussion
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: