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Foster: Trump's legal schedule remains packed

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John Foster



That’s the verdict rendered last week by the jury deciding the E. Jean Carroll lawsuit against Donald Trump for sexual assault and defamation. After calling the lawsuit a “hoax” for the past two years and defaming Carroll on social media and elsewhere, Trump was ordered to pay Carroll $5 million as compensation.

Trump’s attorneys say they will appeal the verdict. They also may be preparing for another defamation case by Carroll because after the verdict, Trump continued to call the incident a lie and disparage her in the media.

Carroll, a former magazine columnist, alleged that Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in 1996. She had complained about the attack to several friends at the time, but didn’t file a police report.

Testifying at the trial, she said she became motivated by the #MeToo movement that empowered women to speak out against sexual abuse by celebrities, motion picture and television executives and other high-profile men.

In 2018, Carroll published a book with the allegations against Trump, which he denied and began a campaign of calling her a liar and many derogatory names. Trump’s lawyer grilled her on cross-examination for three days, but she remained firm in her allegations.

Since the trial was in civil court, Trump won’t receive a prison sentence, but the same can’t be said for other legal action Trump is facing in coming months. His trial schedule is booked well into 2024 when he’ll be trying to sew up the Republican presidential nomination.

Many longtime News-Journal readers probably think I’m gleeful over Trump’s conviction. It does lend credence to the years that I’ve tried to explain that Trump is not only a miserable human being, he’s the biggest threat to our democracy. He wanted to shred all the Constitutional safeguards for a free and fair election, then criminally tried to stage a coup in an ego-driven attempt to remain in office.

Instead of glee, however, I have a lot of sympathy for the millions of Americans who were drawn into this insidious plot. Even today, the MAGA crowd is attending Trump’s greatly diminished rallies and making death threats against prosecutors who are lining up many more lawsuits against him.

I’m even thinking that many East Texas folks are victims of Trump’s money-raising campaign based on false information. Immediately following the 2022 election, Trump began sending emails to his faithful that he needed money to “Stop the Steal.” Did some local folks heed Trump’s appeals and send money to his campaign even after the various states certified the election results?

The MAGA crowd responded. Trump raised about $200 million after the election, and here’s the kicker — he gets to keep or spend 75 percent at his own discretion. Only 25 percent has to be spent on party activities. So he theoretically can spend the money on maintaining his luxurious lifestyle, buy a new plane or pay off Carroll and her attorneys.

His fundraising based on lies may constitute wire fraud, according to a new investigation started by special counsel Jack Smith. Smith also is handling the case of Trump taking hundreds of federal documents, including top-secret records, when he left the White House in January 2021.

Trump may need a lot of that money to pay off any settlements in these cases plus the $250 million fraud case the New York attorney general has pending against him.

Too bad he didn’t spend more on getting better legal counsel. His attorney in the Carroll case was repeatedly reprimanded by the trial judge for procedural errors while legal experts who followed the case pointed out his poor trial strategy.

But Trump has a terrible record of paying his lawyers, even to the point that one competent lawyer demanded a $3 million fee up front to represent him. Trump paid the fee to secure his services.

He already saw the results of Rudy Giuliani and Sydney Powell, who floundered in other election cases. Giuliani, Powell and others on his legal team also are facing sanctions in several jurisdictions for bringing frivolous lawsuits with no legal merit.

Trump once boasted that the American people would get tired from all the “winning” he would bring to the White House. Now I’m wondering if he’s getting tired of all his “winning” in court with a lot more cases on the docket.

— John D. Foster is a Carthage resident and regular contributor. Email