NEW YORK – Former President Donald Trump has begun the process of appealing the $5 million verdict reached Tuesday in a sexual abuse and defamation lawsuit by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll.

A notice of appeal was filed late Thursday afternoon by Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, less than 24 hours after Trump denounced Carroll during a CNN town hall as a “whack job” who peddled “a fake story.” The filing is the first step in seeking a review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan of the trial judge’s rulings in Carroll’s case.

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Former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally on April 27, in Manchester, N.H. Charles Krupa/Associated Press

Jurors in the lawsuit deliberated for less than three hours before finding that Carroll had sufficiently proved she was sexually abused in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s after a chance encounter with Trump. The nine-member panel also found that Trump had defamed Carroll years later on social media, after she publicly accused him of rape.

The jury awarded $5 million in damages.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who presided over the Carroll trial, “has been overturned once already in Carroll v. Trump,” Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina said Thursday, referring to a 2020 appellate ruling that undid a decision excluding the Justice Department from representing Trump as a government employee – a still unresolved issue.

“I am sure it will be twice after this appeal is heard,” Tacopina added.


An appeal is typically considered a long shot, however. In this trial, there were 11 witnesses who testified in support of a verdict in Carroll’s favor, while Trump did not present any witnesses in his own defense (he is not required to do so).

Chris Mattei, a lawyer who won a major defamation case against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones on behalf of the families of Sandy Hook Elementary school victims, said the Carroll jury’s liability finding will probably be hard to challenge.

“I think what the defense is likely considering is whether there were any evidentiary rulings that they feel they can challenge on appeal,” Mattei said of Trump’s legal team. “They’re not going to be able to challenge the jury’s verdict as unsupported by the evidence.”

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan – who is not related to the judge in the case – said Thursday that Trump’s derogatory comments about her client during the CNN town hall Wednesday night could merit an additional legal claim against him.

“We are considering all options,” she said.

Trump’s public disdain for Carroll started soon after she first publicly alleged – in a 2019 magazine excerpt of her memoir – that he had sexually assaulted her decades earlier. Trump, who was president at the time, called her a liar, claimed she was a complete stranger to him and suggested he could not have assaulted her because he found her unattractive.

Those comments led to an avalanche of threatening and alarming messages aimed at Carroll, who told jurors she began sleeping with a loaded gun in her rural New York home out of fear.

Mattei said Carroll’s lawyers are probably now weighing if harm was caused by Trump’s new round of comments.

“Clearly Donald Trump is continuing to act in a way that shows he has not yet been deterred [and] in a way that he knows is likely to result in additional harm to Ms. Carroll,” Mattei said.

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