Yesterday, a federal jury found Donald Trump liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer E. Jean Carroll. As soon as journalist Kaitlan Collins mentioned the verdict during this evening’s CNN town hall with the former president, the audience of Republican-leaning New Hampshire voters started to laugh.
“I never met this woman. I never saw this woman,” Trump said, before launching into a mocking retelling of Carroll’s allegations about what Trump did to her in a New York department store. “What kind of a woman meets somebody and brings them up and within minutes you’re playing hanky-panky in a dressing room?”
Trump swore “on my children” that the alleged attack never happened, despite a jury of nine people unanimously finding otherwise. He also repeated an insult he has frequently lobbed at Carroll, calling her a “wack-job,” to rapturous laughter from the audience.
Trump swears on his children that he didn't assault E Jean Carroll pic.twitter.com/YyHDBSy2LZ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) May 11, 2023
This morning, Carroll sent out a triumphant post on her Substack. The subject line read, “ATTENTION: Women…,” and the body contained a huge message in all caps: “WE WON.” She had established in court that Trump had sexually abused her and that he had falsely damaged her reputation.
But by evening, Trump was back in front of a national audience, proving the power of his word—and of CNN’s megaphone—against hers. E. Jean Carroll will receive $5 million in damages for having her name dragged through the mud. But what is the price for being the butt of the leading Republican presidential candidate’s jokes?
Minutes later, Trump deflected questions about whether he would support a national abortion ban. Instead, he equated reproductive rights with a business decision, arguing that it was a positive that the “pro-life” movement now had room at the negotiating table, thanks to the overturning of Roe v. Wade that his Supreme Court appointees made possible. He called Collins, his interviewer, a “nasty person”—echoing the phrase he once used to refer to his 2016 presidential opponent, Hillary Clinton.
Trump’s disrespect for women this evening was palpable and stunning. The audience’s approval was even scarier.