Due Process? Trump Got It, Good and Hard

Little Marco’s reaction was the best he could muster. “That jury’s a joke.” On the contrary, it was every bit as valid a verdict as it would have been had it found for Trump, as it did on the rape cause of action where he was not found liable. For those who understand nothing about trials, at least when it suits their convenience, this is the kicker in the verdict.

But would a jury so hopelessly biased against Trump jury reject Carroll’s rape claim? Or is that an indication that the jury actually weighed the evidence supporting each charge?

Of course, the flip side of ignorance “interprets” this finding differently.

Yes, it’s odd that the jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse but not rape, which is what Carroll accused him of, and Trump’s defenders may cling to that as a fig leaf of exoneration. But what matters is that for the first time, a court has affirmed what the women who reacted with stunned horror to Trump’s election have always understood. He’s not just a misogynist. He’s a predator.

David French is right. The fact that the jury did not find by a preponderance of the evidence that E. Jean Carroll proved her claim that Trump raped her contradicts the contention that the “New York jury,” deliberately put in scare quotes because that’s the spin, would have convicted Trump of kidnapping the Lindbergh baby, as Lindsay Graham put it. The jury weighed the evidence and reached a unanimous verdict, and on two of three causes of action found Trump liable. They did their job as any good jury should.

But contrary to Goldberg’s non-sequitur rationalization, the verdict was not a validation of #MeToo, a condemnation of all men or definitive proof that Trump was “guilty” of any and every accusation leveled. It was a trial. It was a full and fair opportunity to examine and cross-examine witnesses. To make argument against the plaintiff and for the defendant. And to put the verdict into the hands of a jurors, every one of which the defense had the opportunity to vet and challenge. Make no more of the trial, but no less either.

Yet there was always an explanation, a rationalization for the continued support. They’re all lying, Trump’s defenders would claim. Nothing has been proven. Why didn’t they take him to court?

But E. Jean Carroll did. She did exactly what Trump’s defenders demanded. She went to court, faced cross-examination, looked the jury in the eye and made her claims. She provided witnesses who supported her story, under oath. The court gave Trump a chance to answer, to do the same thing — to look the jury in the eye and state his case. He declined.

Immediately after the verdict, Trump did what Trump does, try to weasel his way out of responsibility for himself.


What he neglects to do is explain why he chose not to take the witness stand and say this, deny he did it and subject himself to cross-examination. Why his lawyer, Joe Tacopina, would prefer he not testify is fairly obvious: Trump is the loosest of cannons, who couldn’t be prepped or relied upon not to blow himself up with answers so absurd, offensive or destructive, as to guarantee his loss. Indeed, Trump’s deposition testimony, which couldn’t be avoided, was a study in disaster. Women will let stars (like him) sexually assault and rape them, “unfortunately or fortunately.”  Parsing the answer would have made for delightful cross for at least a day or two, and there was nothing good that could come of it.

And what of the women who testified that Carroll told them about what Trump did to her and that Trump did it to others as well?

But the case was not a simple matter of “he said, she said.” Carroll provided her own testimony, of course. But she also presented evidence that she had told others about the assault at the time, as well as evidence from other women that Trump had assaulted them and touched them without their consent.

The admission of testimony that the accuser told others immediately after the assault does not prove the assault happened. After all, I could call up a few dear friends right now and make an accusation against someone, and that wouldn’t mean it was true. But what this testimony does is contradict the defense claim of recent fabrication. In other words, she didn’t just make it up to sue Trump.

Similarly, the testimony that Trump’s conduct conformed to the “infamous Access Hollywood” video, and to the allegations made by Carroll, doesn’t prove he sexually assaulted Carroll, but  to contradict a defense claim that he would not engage in such conduct. He said he would. Other women said he did. Carroll said he did.

Is all this unfair? Hardly. Trump had his lawyer in the courtroom, picking jurors. Giving an opening statement. Cross-examining the witness for the prosecution. Objecting to questions he found objectionable. Putting on a defense, or not as is his choice. And making his arguments against the accusation by the plaintiff on summation. In other words, Trump was afforded the fully panoply of due process rights, and whether you agree with the manner in which Joe Tac employed them, there can be no question but that he got a full and fair trial with every due process opportunity.

Trump had that day court he complained so bitterly about when judge after judge tossed his stolen election claim for its complete absence of evidence. This time, Trump got what he said he wanted. And he lost.

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