After winning an $83.3 million defamation verdict against Donald Trump, writer E. Jean Carroll revealed Monday what surprised her about her experience during the trial which saw her testify in front of the man who had sexually assaulted her: that Trump, ultimately, “was nothing.”
On MSNBC, Carroll spoke with Rachel Maddow, who had previously interviewed Carroll following her first court victory against Trump, and after the former president continued to defame her during a CNN town hall last May. Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said at the time that they would indeed be considering suing Trump once more.
Eight months later, Carroll reflected on last week’s outcome.
“I think that this bodes well for the future. I think we’ve planted our flag. I think we’ve made a statement that things are going to be different, that there’s going to be a new way of doing things in this country,” said Carroll, who was joined again by Kaplan and attorney Shawn Crowley—part of her “indestructible” legal team.
“Together, this team of brilliant young people have, as you said, stood up to the man, who, by the way, Rachel, is not even there. He’s nothing,” Carroll said. “He is like a walrus snorting and like a rhino flopping his—he is not there. That was the surprising thing to me.”
Maddow followed up by asking what it was like to be in the same room as Trump for the first time since the mid-1990s assault.
“What you’re describing there in terms of him being nothing, him feeling like an animal, him feeling not intimidating—was that a shock to you?” the MSNBC anchor wondered.
Carroll replied that during trial preparations, she was “terrified.”
“Four days before trial, I had an actual breakdown. I lost my ability to speak. I lost my words. I couldn’t talk, and I couldn’t go on. It was—that’s how frightened I was,” she recalled.
But things changed when the time came, she added.
“Oddly, we went into court. Robbie [Kaplan] took the lectern. I sat in the witness chair…and she said, ‘Ms. Carroll, good morning. Could you please spell your name for court?’ And amazingly, I looked out, and he was nothing!” Carroll proclaimed.
“He was nothing. He was a phantom. It was the people around him who were giving him power. He himself was nothing,” she said. “It was an astonishing discovery for me. He’s nothing. We don’t need to be afraid of him. He can be knocked down.”
Caroll made similar comments Monday on CNN’s The Source. There, she also weighed in on what she believed Trump’s actual objective was during the trial, which he stormed out of during the prosecution’s closing argument. At other times, the former president kept talking when he wasn’t allowed to and made other disruptive outbursts.
“Ours was to win a case. His was to win voters. We’ll see how that plays out,” she said. “A man found liable for sexual assault is using the woman he sexually assaulted to get votes.”
Back on MSNBC, Maddow gauged Carroll’s willingness to proceed with any future lawsuits should Trump defame her again.
“If your lawyers told you that there was another case and that you should go back and get more money out of him and sue him again, would you do it?”
Carroll clasped her lawyers’ hands and was emphatic.