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The Lead with Jake Tapper

Jury Finds Trump Liable for Sexually Abusing & Defaming E. Jean Carroll. Aired 4-5p ET

Aired May 09, 2023 - 16:00   ET



ANNOUNCER: This is CNN breaking news.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN HOST: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

And we do have some breaking news for you, a jury in New York finding Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front runner by far, liable for sexually abusing and defaming writer, E. Jean Carroll. The jury also awarding the former magazine columnist nearly $5 million in damages to be paid by Mr. Trump.

Carroll walked out of the Manhattan courthouse just moments ago with her lawyer who said that they're, quote, very happy with the jury's decision.

Carroll's lawsuit stemmed from an encounter between her and Trump in a New York department store dressing room in 1996, Bergdorf Goodman's, where she claims Donald Trump sexually assaulted her. Donald Trump reacted on his social media platform, writing in all caps, quote: I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace, continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all-time, unquote.

This all comes as Trump is facing another very serious case in New York City. Just last month, the former president pleaded not guilty to 34 felony charges related to hush money payments to adult film star and director, Stormy Daniels, not to mention, investigations by the Justice Department into January 6th and to those classified documents at Mar-a-Lago. Not to mention the investigation where prosecutors in Fulton County, Georgia, who are looking into his attempt to flip Georgia, perhaps illegally in the 2020 election.

But let's go back to the first verdict. Let's get to CNN's Kara Scannell outside the courthouse in New York.

And, Kara, this was pretty quick, and it was also, I think it was more money than she was originally asking for?

KARA SCANNELL, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yeah, Jake. I mean, this verdict was returned just over two and a half hours of deliberations. That seemed extremely quick for the jury that had a number of questions they had to answer. And the jury here found that Trump was liable for sexually abusing E. Jean Carroll. That's all related to, you know, her story that she says Trump raped her in Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid 1990s. They also found that Trump defamed her when he made these statements

on October 12th, saying that he did not know who Carroll was, he said her story was a hoax, and that she was not his type. Now, over this, you know, there were seven days of testimony, the jury heard from 11 witnesses that Carroll put on.

Trump did not get on defense, so the jury did see the video deposition of him. That's something Carroll's team had argued would cut against him, and it seemed to the jury did agree with that and finding that way. And they also awarded Carroll $5 million in damages.

Now, as this verdict was read just after 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time today, you know, as read by the judges, Carroll was sitting there, in between two of her attorneys. She's holding the hands of one of her attorneys, and when the question came of, you know, did they prove that E. Jean Carroll proved that Trump had sexually abused her, the answer was yes, you could see that she looked relieved.

She was leaning forward at times. She, you know, exchanged smiles with one of her attorneys, and then the judge had excused to the jury after they run through the verdict, he pulled each and every one of, them six men, three women, they all said that this was their unanimous verdict, you know.

Then, Carol was still in the courtroom. Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, walked over to her, shook her hand. He also shook the hands of her attorneys. You know, it was a very civil trial between both sides. They were both very respectful of each other, despite what is on the line. We saw that continue through this final moment.

And then, as you mentioned, Carroll, left. We're waiting for her to have a statement based on this verdict. I mean, it was, you know, she said this rape occurred 27 years ago. The jury agreed with her. It's something she only came public within 2019. That lawsuit, that initial lawsuit is still working its way through the system.

She brought the second lawsuit under new New York law, the Adult Survivors Act, just in November. So, you know, certainly a big moment for her.

You know, her lawyers had said to the jury that they weren't looking for a specific amount of money, this was really about Carroll getting her name back. So that, I imagine we'll hear a little bit from Carroll about that. Something she has been fighting for.

You know, we have not seen Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, leave the courthouse just yet. We're waiting to see if he's going to make any statements, if they will move to appeal in this case. You know, previously asked for a mistrial, that was standard. That was denied, but I'm sure we'll see some additional moves from them. So, you know, potential legal decisions that were made and allowed by the judge in this case.


They may look to challenge them. But a big win for E. Jean Carroll today, a long time coming for her.

And as you said, just one of several different lawsuits and investigations that the former president is facing -- Jake.

TAPPER: So, we should note that the jury had an option to find him liable for rape, they did not. They did find him liable for sexual abuse and for defamation. He's on Truth Social doing all his caps thing. Maybe -- maybe I misunderstood, I thought the judge had told him not to do it, not that under the Constitution that's the right ruling. I thought the judge told him not to do that.

SCANNELL: Yeah. So, Trump had been posting on truth social at the very start of this trial. Just a backup moment, the judge made this jury anonymous, anonymous both to him and to the parties.

And the reason he did, that he said, was because of some of the statements Trump has made, you know, even leading up to his indictment in the case brought by the Manhattan district attorney's office because some of these statements, you know, where viewed as being, you know, calls for violence, calls for protest, he wanted to protect the jury. And as a result, protect the process here of this trial.

So, when Trump made some posts on Truth Social, is brought to the judges attention, he warned Trump's attorney, you know, someone should talk to him because he could possibly be violating some statutes here.

Now, he didn't get into details there, but, you know, people were talking that this could be, you know, suggesting there's jury tampering, witness tampering, anything of bringing additional attention to this. And, Joe Tacopina, Trump's lawyer, said he did talk to him. You know, he did see Truth Social post by Trump stop. He did make those comments in Ireland. They were not really raised as an issue in this trial.

And, you know, the reason why the judge wanted him to, stop he wants to protect the jury, and he wanted to protect the integrity of the trial so they wouldn't end up with a mistrial. You, know that's where we saw the judge even telling the jury today, you can speak to anyone you want about this, you can identify yourself, he, said I would advise you not to. He said, if you do decide to talk with someone, don't reveal the names of the other jurors because he wants to protect them. I mean, he said, I would advise you not to speak now and not for a very long time.

So it's something that he's concerned about given the -- you know, the issues even in this case. The case here is about E. Jean Carroll making this allegation, Trump is making those statements, and then E. Jean Carroll receiving numerous negative tweets, emails.

She said she was sleeping with a gun in her bed because she was so concerned about her safety based on the reaction of some of Trump's followers. So, that's something I think the judge was taking into consideration here.

TAPPER: So, obviously, during the case, E. Jean Carroll's attorney introduced the "Access Hollywood" tape of Donald Trump in, I think, 2006, talking with Billy Bush about how, if you're a star, you can get away with sexual assault, essentially, grabbing women by their genitals.

In addition, I believe there was at least one, if not two other women who testified and claimed that Donald Trump hidden similar things to them, right? There is this context that there are more than a dozen women who have made similar allegations about Donald Trump.

Who testified exactly, what did they testify about?

SCANNELL: Yeah, so, there were two women who testified. One of them is Jessica Leeds. She said she was sitting in first class on an airplane next to Donald Trump in 1979 or 1980. She said that Trump just started groping her then.

And the other person who testified, Natasha Stoynoff, she was a reporter for "People" magazine, she said that she was down at Mar-a- Lago, interviewing Trump for a story in 2005 and that he had lured her into a private room and then started kissing her, forcibly. She's trying to push him off. She said he only stopped when the butler walked into the room.

And both of these women instances, the reason why Carroll's attorneys called them, is they wanted to show that this was a pattern. Both of these moments of the Trump just started kissing them, just started groping, them just started coming on to them, and then only stopped when someone interrupted or it was a, you know, a semi public place.

And another piece of their testimony was that they then went public with their stories, their allegations, right before the 2016 election. Trump was asked about them or himself caught up on the campaign trail. In both of those instances, he attacked the women, saying essentially that they were in his type.

So, Carroll's lawyers were using this to say that the jury, this was the pattern. Trump would make these semi-public assaults, if someone went public with, that he would then attack there, you know, their looks and their credibility. And they said to the, jury should look at this pattern.

The judge said to the jury could consider that when they were evaluating whether Trump assaulted Carroll. They could consider this, with their review, if they found that they believe those women by preponderance of evidence, which the judge said was just over 50 percent. So, he said they could consider. He said, if they don't believe these women, they didn't have to consider. But it was something that they were allowed to use in this case and it could be a possible point of appeal for Trump's team.

TAPPER: All right. Kara Scannell, thank you so much. Really appreciate it.

Let's bring in CNN chief legal analyst Laura Coates, and senior legal analyst, Elie Honig.

[16:10:05] Laura, former President Trump chose not to testify in this case. But as Kara Scannell noted, one of the things he had said about E. Jean Carroll, and obviously this is offensive for anybody knows that sexual assault and rape is not about attraction, it's about power, and bullying, and abuse. He said, she's not my type.

How impactful do you think it was in the video recording deposition that was shown to the jury in which Donald Trump, who claimed E. Jean Carroll was not his type, was confused when shown a picture of E. Jean Carroll, because he thought it was actually his second wife, Marla Maples? Let me show that video clip and get your reaction as to how impactful you think that moment might have been.


DONALD TRUMP, FORMER PRESIDENT: I don't even know who the woman, let's see, I don't know who -- that's Marla.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you say Marla in this photo?

TRUMP: That's Marla, yeah, that's my wife.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Which one are pointing to?

TRUMP: Here.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The person you just pointed to is E. Jean Carroll.

TRUMP: Oh, I see. Who's that? Who is this?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The woman on the right is, you know, then wife Ivana?

TRUMP: I don't know. This was a picture, I assume that's John Johnson, is that Carroll? Because it's very blurry.


TAPPER: In addition, the jury was able to see that the photograph was not blurry at all.

How impactful do you think that was, Laura?

LAURA COATES, CNN CHIEF LEGAL ANALYST: Well, first, it does absolutely bear repeating what you just said that the idea here is suggesting in the defense of some kind that had he been attracted to her, had she, quote/unquote, and his, type two and more inclined to do what he was alleged to have done. That's a really just a fatal defense to make.

The second part, as you note, it's about power, it is not about the laws of attraction. Why this is so impactful and why it was ultimately so impactful is because he did not testify. It's his right to do so. It's his right to also not appear at the actual civil trial under the civil law. But it then gives an outsized and perhaps oversize emphasis on the

deposition testimony. That's what the jury has to go by. They have to presentation, the plaintiff's case and nothing more. So, there is no ability to actually counter that in a point.

But also, ultimately, the idea that he said he does not know who she is, a claim he's repeated, essentially, in his most recent Truth Social, even after being found to defame and also sexually abused her, it just goes to show that there is a disconnect between what I believe he may have understood this trial to be about and what he was accused of having done and what he's required to do from here out.

TAPPER: Elie, obviously, this is a horrible day for Donald Trump. I guess, one of the questions I have is, if you had been his attorney, would you have told him, please go on the stand, please testify, and please express, if not contrition, please say, I would never do such a thing? That's such -- wouldn't that be what somebody would tell a client to do?

ELIE HONIG, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: That will be exactly what I would tell Donald Trump before his deposition, Jake, ideally. I think that's absolutely the best defense. You just deny this, you can deny this respectfully, you poke holes in E. Jean Carroll's testimony, and you let it rest with the jury.

Instead, at that deposition, Donald Trump absolutely did himself in. That position was a complete and utter train wreck. He completely undermined any defense he had. If anything, he probably implicated himself in all this.

So, once you got that deposition on a record, you're in a really tough spot because then, option A is to call your client as a witness, hope he does better. But remember, he can still get cross-examined with that deposition or option B is to let the deposition stand and hope you don't make it any worse by leaving him off the stand. It's a sort of know when once you get that horrific deposition.

TAPPER: Laura, help us understand as non lawyers out there, help us understand why the jury did not find Donald Trump liable for rape but did find him liable for sexual assault or sexual abuse. What is the difference? Does it suggest they believe some of what E. Jean Carroll said but not all of it? I don't know, so forgive my ignorance. What does it mean?

COATES: No one would ever mistake you for ignorant, Jake Tapper. But let me tell you this, when you're thinking about how jurors are going to view the instructions, the verdict form, what the elements are to prove a particular case, it's important to note, although this is a lower burden of proof, preponderance of evidence versus reasonable doubt, they had to me all of the elementary requirements in order to get this conviction or this actual liability finding of Donald Trump.

And so, the differences, normally, the amount of force that may have been used, threats or intimidation.

[16:15:04] Usually, it has to do with the idea of what happened in the actual act, penetration can occur in both areas. The idea of sexual gratification is also part of it. But only at the very end, in terms of physical force that can be used.

It could also just be that the jury is really reminiscent of what we've dealt with as a nation and as a society. Looking at this in the, past, present, and future, Jake.

In the past, the idea of a delayed report of sexual assault would've been something that would've been easily dismissed. The person would've been discredited. The person would've gotten no sense of access to a court of law. They would've been found to be somebody who you should not believe by virtue of the passage of time.

Now, in the present, following the # too movement in particular, we have a greater level of credibility that's afforded because we recognize the different reason somebody might not want to come forward immediately.

But in the future, you're going to be looking at the appeal process here. The idea, and you mention it, Elie as well, the idea you have other witnesses who came forward, not about the specific allegations in this case, but about the motives operandi, this is what this person is doing. They've done over time. That's going to be the source of appeal, not so much the difference between rape or sexual abuse.

TAPPER: I don't know, the control room will tell me if we have the clip of Donald Trump talking about the "Access Hollywood" videotape in which he was asked about it. But just to remind our viewers, in 2006, and then came out right before the presidential election in 2016, Donald Trump on tape, joking with Billy Bush about how if you're a star, women let you essentially commit sexual assault.

Now, Trump's team, both on the campaign and subsequently at the White House, they would say that was a locker room talk, it was -- it was just words, it wasn't deeds. But when Trump was asked about that tape, those claims in this trial, Elie Honig, he basically doubled down, he agreed with it. He said, yeah, this is how it is, if your star, it's been like this for millionaires. You get away with it.

And then he said, unfortunately, or fortunately, or fortunately -- do you think that that might have played a role in the jury's verdict? Because he's obviously saying sometimes, I mean, just to parse what he said, sometimes it's a good thing that a star can get away with sexual assault. I mean, that's what fortunately means in that context.

HONIG: Yeah, exactly, Jake. That was a disastrous answer for Donald. Trump really, on two levels. First of all, as you say, when you say that it's fortunate that stars can do this, later was, asked you consider yourself a star? He said, yes. That really goes to the heart of E. Jean Carroll's allegation.

And second of all, but when Trump said, well, it's true, that was his answer. That is not the point here. The point is, does Donald Trump believe that that's the way of the world? And he clearly does believe that's the way of the world, he said at the deposition and hence the argument is, that's how he operates and Jean Carroll's lawyers effectively argued to the jury, that's what he did to E. Jean Carroll.

So, that answer right there, I think it did a lot of damage to Donald Trump and was a contributing factor to today's verdict.

TAPPER: So, Laura, Donald Trump ordered by this court to pay $5 million to E. Jean Carroll, $3 million for defamation, $2 million for sexual abuse. I assume you think he will appeal this verdict. Wouldn't appeal have a chance of success?

COATES: He absolutely will appeal. I would expect him to do so, as I would any other -- even if it might not be as consequential to say Donald Trump as it would be for the average person, it's still a finding that you've committed a sexual act against somebody in a nonconsensual way and defamation. These are very, very consequential and important allegations against him that now a jury is found to be true.

Remember how you're breaking down that figure. Partially compensatory, essentially says, look, this person had a lowering of the reputation. I want to compensate for that loss, the community aspect of it, to punish the person for what they've done.

But again, go back to the fact that there were other witnesses who are allowed to testify about actions that they say that he engaged in, they were not either charged criminally or that were actually the topic of this particular lawsuit, known as kind of prior bad acts if this were a criminal matter.

That is usually right fodder for appeal, to say, look, a jury never should've heard those things, you want to be judged based on the context of the specific crime and prior bad acts are allowed to come in, most appellant will have an issue with that because they believe that it essentially makes them likely to be found more liable or more guilty in the criminal context. That's where I would look for.

Also, of course, the former president commented on what he perceived this judge has had been harder on him, perhaps biased, if there is some room to actually make that argument.


But, at the end of the day, the appeal won't have as much credibility because he did not put on a case.

So, a jury is going to look at this and say, and look at this and say, based on what we're, seeing that's what we're finding. So, even an appeal that says no reasonable jury would've ever found this, well, what are you going to do? I only heard one side and your deposition.

TAPPER: Yeah. Laura Coates, Elie Honig, stick with us. We're going to keep covering the story. We have more on the breaking news ahead, the jury in the civil case finding that Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front runner, sexually abused E. Jean Carroll. The political impact as the president makes another run for the White House.


TAPPER: We have more on the breaking news, a New York jury this afternoon finding Donald Trump, the Republican presidential front runner liable for sexual abuse and for defamation. The jury ordering Donald Trump to pay nearly $5 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, accuses him of raping her in a department store in the mid '90s. This decision coming after a different legal consequence for Donald Trump.


He was indicted by the Manhattan grand jury on 34 criminal counts of falsifying business records in March related to the hush money payment paid to Stormy Daniels.

Laura Coates is back with me, along with CNN political commentator S.E. Cupp, who joins our discussion, because, S.E., obviously, the political implications of this, beyond the legal ones, are quite consequential. Donald Trump is, by far, in every poll, the front runner for the Republican presidential nomination. And he is now found liable for sexual abuse in a case in which he really didn't actually provide any defense of himself at all.

Is this going to have any impact on Republican voters?

S.E. CUPP, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Right. So, you have to remember, I know you, do Jake, that Republican voters elected a man in 2016 who we knew to have had sexually assaulted women, he admitted it, right? He admitted that he grabbed women by the genitalia, because as a famous person, he could. That did not bother them, nor did a slew of other odious elements of his campaign and his personal background.

I have to imagine some of this is baked into Republican voters. However, there might be some more practical minded donors and political operatives who might pull back given this verdict and some other, you know, pending legal cases, might want to shift their tension to candidates have not been found liable of sexual abuse.

This is a -- this is a big deal, but voters have to ask themselves, listen, in 2016, we elected this guy. Are we going to elect a guy in 2024 now who's been found liable by an actual jury of sexual abuse? That's pretty hard to ignore.

TAPPER: Laura, through the years, Donald Trump has, without question, been able to politically withstand many scandals, and he's still rocking them up, that probably would have felled anyone else, I mean, people making a bigger deal out of Ron DeSantis, you know, having, you know, writing the word "likable" on top of the piece of paper during debate prep than Donald Trump being found liable for sexual abuse.

But, you know, based on your observations, do you think it's likely he'll be able to, you know, work through it, tweet through it? Truth Social through it? And this might not have any impact on the Republican base voters that can deliver him the nomination? COATES: Well, ironically, a lot of what they're using his talking

points right now to try to counter the allegations, the lawsuits, the indictments against Trump are rooted in some of the same arguments they disparaged and really criticize. We're talking about criminal justice reform. The idea there being, more than one justice system, some for them, some for the others. The idea they're not being treated fairly, that they are targeted, they're sexually prosecuted.

All these things gets wrapped up into a conflation about himself. But it's really unique only to him and not really viewed and other aspects of things. So, it'll be curious from my perspective, as somebody who is intimately involved in the Justice Department and system to see how the talking points will reflect an overall disdain for the thought that some people are prosecuted and others are not.

But, ultimately, based on what he's already said, we already had a lot of what was used as evidence against him in the courtroom, the Access Hollywood tape, et cetera, already had been in the public square, so to speak.

There is one aspect of it that I think will be very telling. It is a block away in Manhattan, there is also an indictment. It is down south in Georgia, it's also down even south further in Florida from Mar-a- Lago. And, sometimes, it's the culmination on those old justice skills that actually can weigh in favor of people saying it's enough. Maybe there is somebody who ought to head the executive branch of government, that's a different person.

But be it far for me to anticipate every voter will do, any more than what every juror will do.

TAPPER: So, S.E., former Arkansas governor, Asa Hutchinson, who is going to run for president against Donald Trump. Has not had much traction in the polls as of yet.

He just released the statement about the verdict, quote: I've seen firsthand how cavalier and arrogant contempt for the rule of law can backfire. The jury verdict should be treated with seriousness and is another example of the indefensible behavior of Donald Trump, unquote.

That is one comment from one Republican running against Donald Trump. We have yet to hear from the Ambassador Nikki Haley. We have yet to hear from Ron DeSantis, who is not officially a candidate, of course, and on and on.

What do you think somebody who wants to be the Republican presidential nominee should say today?

CUPP: Listen, it shouldn't take a lot of courage to come out pretty strongly and say we should not elect a guy who's been now found liable of sexual abuse to be president again. But I think it will take some courage and I'm not sure how often we'll hear this.

But I do just want to point out very quickly, tomorrow's town hall at CNN has been criticized for platforming a man with such a gross background, who has done so much damage to the country. But it's important because it's an opportunity, to ask him about this,

not in a deposition, not when he can sort of avoid answering, but when he's going to be on camera on a big platform, on a big stage, to ask him, maybe for the first time, at a town hall, asking a former president about being found liable by a jury of sexual abuse. That is historic and an opportunity for us to really probe into that.

TAPPER: Laura Coates, S.E. Cupp, thanks to both of you.

Coming up next, the White House reporter who interviewed Trump and wrote a story led to this sexual abuse and defamation case. I'm going to speak with him.

Stay with me.



TAPPER: And we are back with the breaking news. A New York jury this afternoon finding former President Donald Trump liable for sexual abuse and for defamation, and ordering him to pay nearly $5 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, who accuses Trump of raping her in Bergdorf Goodman's department store in the mid '90s.

Here to discuss is the White House correspondent for "Bloomberg News", Jordan Fabian. Jordan co-wrote the original story where Donald Trump denied having assaulted E. Jean Carroll and said, quote, she's not my type. Of course, as we all know, sexual assault has nothing to do with the traction or type, it's about bullying and abuse. Either way, Jordan Fabian wrote that in 2019 when he was with "The Hill".

So, Jordan Fabian, you had a role here in this event, this major, historical event. What do you make of what happened?

JORDAN FABIAN, WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT, BLOOMBERG: Well, Jake, it was stunning to hear Donald Trump use that kind of language in the Oval Office at the time. Even though he had this history of making crude statements, just given the fact that this is a live allegation and you sort of knew at the time, this could lead to legal peril.

So, when he said it, as a reporter, your spidey sense sort of jumps up, pops out, and that's the reaction I had at the time. Like, oh my God, I can't believe he just said that and this could spell real trouble for him. I remember rushing to meet the deadline to run the story and E. Jean Carroll was on CNN soon afterwards to respond, and now here we are.

TAPPER: And then obviously he subsequently repeated it as well. I mean, it wasn't just something he said is president where you could, I guess, technically argue perhaps it was protected speech because of his special role as president of the United States. Then after his presidency, he went on and repeated it again.

It is remarkable somebody with so many accusers is so free wheeling in his insults and attacks. Did you ever think that your story would be at the center of this momentous civil trial against Donald Trump?

FABIAN: Well, it was hard to envision that at the time, but you just sort of had an inkling that it was going to get him into some sort of trouble. Like, E. Jean Carroll, I think a couple days before, had made the allegations. And so, you know, I know for a fact, from that reporting at the time, the White House staff definitely did not want Donald Trump to talk about the Jean Carroll case in its capacity as president. They didn't want reporters asking about it.

So they had a sense that there could be some legal sensitivities, perhaps, if not political sensitivities. For him, talking about it, in the end, as we saw, Jake, during the Trump administration, there was always a gulf between what his staff wanted and what Donald Trump wanted to talk about. And he decided to go there in that interview.

TAPPER: Were you surprised by the comments he made in his video deposition that were aired before the jury, even though he refused to testify before the jury? He did offer this video deposition and in them, he basically affirmed his belief that if you are a star, you can get away with sexual assault and he said, unfortunately, or fortunately.

And then, having said that E. Jean Carroll was not his type, he went on to confuse a picture of E. Jean Carroll with the picture of his second wife, Marla Maples. I mean, I don't want to be, I'm not a legal analyst, but that is some of the worst testimony I've ever seen in my life.

FABIAN: Yeah, the thought also occurred to me, Jake, the same thing that even for Donald Trump, it was stunning to hear him talk about that under oath in the deposition. What ostensibly his goal is to try to get himself off the hook, he made comments that I would assume a reasonable juror would think, yeah, this guy may have definitely done this and that, is how it appears how the jury decided.

So, yes, even for Donald Trump, it was some wild stuff and he, again, repeated that she's not my type comments, she repeated that the Hollywood, "Access Hollywood" tapes, tropes, and the result perhaps is not surprising, in that light.

TAPPER: All right. Jordan, thank so much. I have to interrupt because we're going to bring in Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, is talking right now. Let's listen in.

JOE TACOPINA, DONALD TRUMP'S ATTORNEY: Don't need anyone to get run over.


REPORTER: We are good.

TACOPINA: Yeah, I mean, look, strange verdict. This was a rape claim, it was a rape case all along, and the jury rejected that. But they made the findings.

So we'll obviously be appealing those other findings, but they rejected her rape claim and she had always claimed this was a rape case. So, it's a little perplexing, but, you know, we move forward.

REPORTER: Did you speak with Mr. Trump and what did he tell you?

TACOPINA: We have spoken and we are ready to, you know, proceed, go forward.

Obviously, he's firm in his belief, as many people are, that he cannot get a fair trial in New York City, based on the jury pool. And I think one could argue that that's probably an accurate assessment, based on what happened today.

And, you know, again, it's something that we are very confident on the appellate issues here. The "Access Hollywood" tape should not have come into this case. Some other things should have come into this case. We made many motions that we thought would create issues for appeal, and we're going to employ them now.

You know, there were things that happened in this case that were beyond the pale. I mean, we made a mistrial motion (AUDIO GAP) because of some of the rulings we believe were biased, that was displayed by the court. This judge had been overturned already once by the Second Circuit in Carroll versus Trump and we think it's going to be overturned a second time.

But in the meantime, we -- you know, we move forward. He was found not liable for the rape and that is it.

The fact that Reid Hoffman, the Democratic financier, financed this case, that was not something when Donald Trump was accused of making statements that this was a politically motivated claim and the judge wouldn't let us go into that. And, you know, it's, there were plenty of issues for us to pursue.

REPORTER: You were complimented by not only the judge, but opposing counsel. How do you feel about that?

TACOPINA: I appreciate that. I mean, look, I have respect for the opposing counsel in this case, Roberta Kaplan, who is a great lawyer, her team's great, and I appreciate that they complimented me.

But, you know, for me, it's just about the results and at the end of the day, you know, while it was strange -- was obviously very happy that Donald Trump was not granted a rapist, I didn't think there should be any liability findings. So we'll pursue it, we'll pursue that.


TACOPINA: That's what I just said about the appeal, right? We're going to be appealing it. But she claimed all along that she had been raped by Donald Trump. That's what this was case was all about.

REPORTER: Can you talk about (INAUDIBLE) not to attend this trial and not to testify.

TACOPINA: Yeah, this was a circus atmosphere and having him be here would be more of a circus. And again, what I said in the summation yesterday, you know, reigns true, holds true. It's that, you know, what more can he say other than I didn't do it? He said it under oath here.

You know, he's hard to prove a negative (INAUDIBLE). You can say, you stole my pen, prove it and do it. How would you prove it? So, you didn't do it, right? I mean, it's sort of where we are at.

So, you know, it's very simplistic to say, oh, he should've testified. He had nothing to say, other than what he already said under oath. So --

REPORTER: You talked a little bit about how perplexing the verdict was.


TACOPINA: Good to see you, man.

REPORTER: Good seeing you.

TACOPINA: How does that play in the appeal? The fact that she called it a rape case all along and --

TACOPINA: Yeah, I think it's an inconsistent verdict, right? And it's something that obviously will be another issue for appeal. But the issue for the appeals were laid, really, months ago when things like, you know, Donald Trump's attempt to have the dress tested for DNA after they sent it into a lab, it didn't come up with semen. I think that's something that was important.

The fact that the Reid Hoffman, the Democratic financier, you know, who Ms. Carroll was not candid about when she testified initially under oath in her deposition, you know, that should come into this case. The "Access Hollywood" tape should not have come into this case. There's a federal rule called 403 that balances out inflammatory and prejudicial things and that was certainly one of them.

So there are plenty of issues to appeal, and look, that's what happens, right? You know, we are -- we're in one sense gratified. And I know some people in this camp are very happy that, you know, the rape claim was rejected, but, you know, I'm not, and I am happy about that, certainly, but I'm not happy that he was found liable for anything whatsoever, because on the seventh (ph) decided that he shouldn't have been.


TACOPINA: You know, he's strong. He's ready to move forward. He wants to fight this on appeal. Again, he was successful in one appeal before. The second circuit with Judge Kaplan on Carroll versus Trump and he will think cues going to be successful in the second one.

But he's planning -- you know, he's got a town hall tomorrow night. He's just moving forward, as he always does.






TACOPINA: I don't think so. You know, he seems to be a survivor and move forward, and we'll continue to move forward. Again, this case will be up on appeal and we'll see what happens. But --

REPORTER: What do you think about the anonymous jury, does it feel fair?


TACOPINA: No, I didn't, actually. You know, look, there have been mafia cases where there are anonymous juries, but at least the lawyers get to know who the jurors are. Here, we didn't even know who they were. And that's -- in a case where there, as you know, a very strong -- a very strong reaction people would have to politicians, particularly Donald Trump one way or another, we should've been able to tell something about the background of these people.

And unfortunately, having an anonymous jury even kept from the lawyers I don't think was fair or was right. It sort of prevents a thorough jury selection and we couldn't challenge people who wouldn't even know, you know, what their backgrounds were. So, we're looking at faces basically.

REPORTER: (INAUDIBLE) final judgment pending appeals?

TACOPINA: We will.

REPORTER: What did you say to E. Jean when you shook her hand?

TACOPINA: Oh, no, listen, what I said to her is between Ms. Carroll and I. But, you know, I don't make it personal with people, and we had -- we had a pretty good experience as far as the parties in this case, considering, you know, what we went through. This was not an easy case.

REPORTER: What did you think about how fast (INAUDIBLE)?

TACOPINA: Yeah, it was fast. I mean, I -- you know, and again, it's hard to see behind a jury room door. And I don't know what they were thinking or what it sort of indicates is what, again, people have been saying is that in New York, you just can't get a fair trial.

And, you know, people have said you lost a case when they announce the names of the litigants. But again, they found him not liable for the rape.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You're a fucking Neanderthal! (SCREAMING)

REPORTER: Mr. Tacopina, what did you make of the fact that they decided on sexual abuse but didn't go as far as saying this was rape?

TACOPINA: Yeah, what I said earlier, which is a bit inconsistent, right? It's a bit inconsistent because all along, she's claimed this was a rape -- not that she wasn't certain it was a rape, it was a rape. And she said that, and the jury rejected it.

So it's hard to sort of square that with the rest of the verdict, but it's a good question. I just don't -- I'm a little perplexed, guys, honestly, in that regard.

Okay, I'm going to go now. I have a fan that wants to talk to me over there, so I'm going to go address him.

REPORTER: Thank you, Joe.

TAPPER: All right. That's Donald Trump's attorney, Joe Tacopina, speaking outside of the Manhattan courthouse, where there were a lot of reporters and at least one individual decidedly not a fan of Mr. Tacopina, this is after the jury found former president, Donald Trump, his client, liable for battery and for defamation, and ordered him, Trump, to pay nearly $5 million to writer E. Jean Carroll.

Let's bring back CNN's chief legal analyst, Laura Coates.

A lot was said there by Mr. Tacopina and he expressed, he agreed that it was a fast jury verdict. He was surprised, it seemed, that it was that fast. He definitely indicated that there is going to be an appeal. Among the various grounds -- well, let's just do them one by one because I'm really interested in your insights, Laura.

First of all, he said, Donald Trump can get a fair trial in New York City because of the jury pool. New York City is where this incident allegedly happened in Bergdorf Goodman's, I -- it's that grounds for a successful appeal to say, look, New York, you know, Manhattan specifically voted -- I don't even know what it was, but let's say more than 90 percent of the vote, people in that borough voted against Donald Trump in the last elections, he can't have a fair trial.

Is that reasonable?

COATES: No. I mean, the assumption that by virtue of one's politics, that you are unable to follow the jury's instruction to something that has been unsuccessful for many a litigant across this country. But more broadly, there was a voir dire process. They didn't just pull names out of the hat and say, here you go, you will now sit.

They had to whittle it down to the nine, it was actually 12 who sat, because they had to have alternate who might have been available in case of any issue that could arise. To suggest that there was somehow no ability to do a full background check on the average juror is a little absurd to me, given that normally, and even in a criminal context, where you're fighting for your life outside of bars, that you would be able to know whether the jurors could follow the instructions, whether they could be objective and unbiased.

That's the criteria. Not so much whether you've had a chance to do a full background check on one's voting habits and beyond. But it's notable, of course, that Donald Trump has routinely said that by virtue of his name, his position, his lack of fans, that he will not have a fair jury pool in New York. But that is really a far cry from what is required to prove on appeal.

TAPPER: He also brought up the idea that the "Access Hollywood" tape should not have been admitted. Again, I'm no legal expert. It certainly is defamatory. It certainly suggests that Donald Trump thinks that he can get away with the kind of behavior E. Jean Carroll accused him of doing.


Does he have a point that that tape should not have been admitted? My understanding, and tell me if I'm wrong, was that the way he brought it in was he was talking to a woman who also alleges that Donald Trump and sexually assaulted her in a similar way, and she mentioned the "Access Hollywood" tape, and thus, provided an entre for him to introduce it as evidence.

COATES: The way you bring is in is hearsay, right? It's an out of court statement made to prove is true in the courtroom. Essentially, as you have to show it's more probative than it is prejudice, meaning is it going to help eliminate an issue for the jury in a way that's not going to unduly prejudice the person who is accused.

In this case, because it was about this other prior bad act that related to a direct claim that was being made by somebody on a witness stand, the relevance likely outweighed the actual -- any prejudicial value. Also, of course, the judge noted I'm sure the thinking of this has already been out in the public. It's not as if the "Access Hollywood" tape was covered and cobwebs buried under a rock and no one knew about it for years on end. It was part of a major presidential election.

So the idea of admitting it for this particular case, the judge probably looked at it. Although it's in the court of public opinion does not mean it comes into the court of law. But here, you're weighing that probative value against the need for the testimony. And once you decide the other person who witnessed or is a claimant in some say, is able to testify, other things can come in.

TAPPER: Mr. Tacopina also brought up several times in a short address there that this was a rape trial. He was accused of rape but the jury did not find Trump liable for rape, they found him liable for sexual abuse. Not to be too graphic, but I guess what she's accused him, she accuses him of is digitally penetrating her without her consent.

So I don't know if technically the details here, but is it relevant that he wasn't found guilty or liable for rape?

COATES: I'm sure it's relevant in his ability to say in front of the reporters that Donald Trump was not found to be a, quote/unquote, rapist. But I found a couple things odd about that statement. Number one, he said it's difficult to prove a negative. They compared this case to say I stole your pen. How would I prove that?

Just so we're all clear in this country and beyond, a sexual assault very distinct from stealing one's pen. But the law in New York, of course, means two different things. There's sexual contact, which is under sexual abuse, meaning your person has had contact with somebody's genitalia or other private areas, and often includes the anus as well, and that it was without consent.

Now rape and sexual assault in a different context often means penetration without one's consent normally by force or some type of implied threat or beyond. So, a finding of sexual contact is still a non-consensual offensive touching, that's where you have the battery part come in, a non-consensual offensive touching of one's intimate genitalia. I don't know if you want to split hairs so to speak on these two issues, they both are particularly problematic.

TAPPER: But when she accuses him of rape, and again, I don't know the details about how this works in civil court, is digital rape considered rape in New York law?

COATES: It's considered contact, sexual contact. It could be by penetration. In fact, you look at the actual statute. I looked up to make sure we were on the same page. Part of sexual intercourse, as it's defined under New York law, includes meaning any penetration, however slight of the penis into the vaginal opening.

So, if this is a digital penetration, meaning one's fingers or hand in some form or fashion, it could be viewed as distinct and ought to be under the actual reading of the law. But remember, this case, we were very quick and close and clear to say this on CNN because the most important thing to remember, it is a battery and defamation suit.


COATES: Battery defined as the offensive touching. So under that umbrella can include, which is why the jury had all those different categories to look at how one's defines touching to include sexual contact, penetration, digitally, or penile.

TAPPER: I guess the verdict didn't really leave him, Mr. Tacopina, much to say beyond that.

COATES: Right.

TAPPER: And now, we find out it's even less than we thought.

Laura Coates, thanks so much.

Coming up next, we're going to go live outside the New York courthouse. Donald Trump's attorneys say that he plans to appeal the verdict after the jury found him liable for sexual abuse and defamation.

Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

TAPPER: Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In this hour, we're going to start in New York City with a massive jury verdict. A Manhattan jury finding Donald Trump, the Republican front runner for president of the United States, liable for battery and defamation and ordered him to pay nearly $5 million to E. Jean Carroll, who was seen leaving court with her lawyer after the decision came down. Carroll accuses Trump of raping her in a department store in the mid 1990s.

Trump's lawyer says he's already planning an appeal and Trump reacted on his social media website Truth Social saying, quote, I have absolutely no idea who this woman is. This verdict is a disgrace, a continuation of the greatest witch hunt of all time, unquote.

We're going to start our coverage with CNN's Paula Reid and Jean Casarez.

Paula, walk us through the verdict.

PAULA REID, CNN SENIOR LEGAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Jake, it's always surprising this jury was able to go through this three-page verdict in just two hours, answering these questions and finding the former President Trump sexually abused E. Jean Carroll and he was liable for battery, awarding her $2 million in damages.