Former President and confirmed sexual abuser Donald Trump took the stand Thursday afternoon for a number of quick moments within the second defamation trial introduced by E. Jean Carroll, the previous journalist who claimed that Trump raped her in a division retailer altering room within the mid-90s (these claims had been established in her first trial against him). As a result of Trump’s response to her preliminary report of the sexual assault got here within the type of defamation, and since Carroll misplaced her job and have become the sufferer of nearly bottomless threats and abuse from Trump and his intercourse pest fans, the query that can go to the jurors in a federal court docket on this spherical of litigation is an easy one: How a lot will Trump’s defamation price him? In a previous trial, along with confirming that the assault certainly occurred, a jury discovered unanimously that the previous president wanted to pay Carroll $5 million for the defamation within the time span it reviewed. Choose Lewis Kaplan has cautioned Trump and his lawyer, Alina Habba, that this court docket isn’t the place to relitigate that query, it’s nearly how far more cash he owes for the remainder of the defamation.

However Trump, within the method of a small baby or geriatric narcissist, maintains that as a result of he didn’t attend that first trial, it should not have really occurred. So he spent a great deal of his time on Thursday pitching tantrums about points that weren’t open to debate. “I by no means met the lady,” Trump hissed at his lawyer, Habba, as each side had been discussing the potential scope of his testimony earlier than the jurors entered the room. Funnily sufficient, saying exactly that factor is likely one of the acts for which Trump is presently in court docket.

As soon as he acquired on the stand, one of many only a few questions Habba requested was whether or not he denied the allegation. “Sure. She stated one thing I thought of a false accusation—” Trump replied. All the pieces after the “Sure” was tormented by Choose Kaplan. Maybe the one query that Trump answered in a manner that prompt he even understood what this second trial was about was whether or not he ever “instructed anybody to harm Ms. Carroll.”  “No,” Trump answered. “I simply needed to defend myself and my household and, frankly, the presidency. All the pieces after “No” was erased. So these longer responses occur to be immaterial on this defamation declare, though it squarely locates Trump’s protection someplace between “crime boss” and “stochastic terrorist” because the presumptive concept of his innocence.

Provided that Trump’s testimony was fully pointless, brutish, and quick—he was primarily kicked off the stand after a mere three minutes—the query one should ask is why did he trouble to testify in any respect? Actually he acquired the whole lot off his chest Wednesday night time in his unrebutted Truth Social rage-fest directed on the choose, the plaintiff, George Conway, and each perceived enemy previous and future?  What doable profit did he see in taking the stand to say issues that don’t assist him in any respect on this trial?

I are likely to agree with what Amanda Marcotte wrote earlier this week: That for Trump the Bully, the trial grew to become a scrumptious showcase for tips on how to be a bully.  He was fairly actually utilizing the courtroom to reenact the habits for which he’s on the hook, threatening and abusing the plaintiff. By the identical token, Trump has so far spent on daily basis of the hearings defaming Carroll in actual time, usually from contained in the courtroom. The flexibility to duplicate the very conduct you’re denying having performed is a powerful option to present that you simply personal the regulation. And Trump is nothing if not the snake swallowing its personal tail of performative criminality.

However Trump, who has deserted any pretense of abiding by the rule of regulation, simply as he has deserted any pretense of abiding by a vote depend, is doing another factor, and it’s value clocking it. When a choose tells Trump what he could not do in a courtroom, or on social media, or on the witness stand—as Judges Tanya Chutkan and Arthur Engoron and Lewis Kaplan have repeatedly performed all through every of his trials—and Trump does it anyway, as Trump has repeatedly performed all through every of his trials, it’s Trump’s manner of signaling to everybody within the room that he’s particular; he’s above the regulation. Oh, and do not forget that the room is definitely all of America, as a result of his conduct is instantly broadcast worldwide.

Trump must carry out {that a} choose can’t constrain him any greater than the regulation can’t constrain him, as a way of displaying himself to be the middle of the ethical and authorized universe. The act of testifying to issues which are going to be stricken from the document is the authorized equal of a tree falling in a forest when the jury is actually not allowed to think about it. However for Donald Trump, who separates jurors into pals and foes in the identical manner Alina Habba asks witnesses whether or not or not they voted for Trump, the jury is at all times rigged in a lot the identical manner that the choose is at all times corrupt. Oh and in addition, the primary trial that positively occurred and actually discovered him liable? It by no means even occurred. Trump wasn’t there. What issues to Donald J. Trump is to embody what Donald J. Trump feels within the on the spot he’s feeling it. Any day he can say the factor he has been barred from saying is a superb day for him, as a result of it makes him really feel highly effective.

Which leads me to conclude one thing in regards to the tribulations of Trump’s former lawyer, Joe Tacopina, within the earlier trial Trump endured by the hands of E. Jean Carroll. Tacopina’s mistake in representing Trump’s pursuits in that first defamation go well with lay in making an attempt to win the case within the eyes of the regulation, which meant holding Trump far-off from the jurors. Trump has corrected for that by retaining Habba who understands that whether or not Trump wins or loses issues lower than assuring that he feels like a winner, regardless of the verdict. And what’s successful if not attending to do the factor you had been instructed, underneath penalty of sanctions, to not do. Habba is aware of that the end result of those trials (how a lot cash he has to pay) doesn’t matter practically as a lot as establishing that Trump is as proof against regulation, judges, gag orders, and threats of sanctions, as he’s proof against actuality, truth, science and election outcomes. She is the stage mom who involves all his ballet recitals and t-ball video games and tells him he’s a star and that everybody else is doping. And if a bit of lawyering occurs on the aspect, effectively, that’s a stable day’s work.

What’s horrifying about these sequential Trumpian performances of above-the-law-ness, is that as they accrue, he’s skilled to each consider much more obstinately that the regulation is what he says it’s, and to try to push the boundaries ever additional the subsequent time. For the parents who didn’t consider Trump would testify this week, as a result of he had nothing to achieve and the whole lot to lose, we missed the foundational level. Dropping the jury or the case is much less necessary than displaying but once more, that they’re irrelevant constructs in a world wherein he declaims his innocence and hundreds of thousands nonetheless consider him.

Maybe the scariest takeaway from the three-minutes or so Donald Trump spent on the stand Thursday, was that he was actually simply testifying that he can do and say no matter he desires, and his followers will come away pondering that the regulation is pretend and Trump is actual. The chilling irony of the one actually substantive factor Trump stated—that he didn’t order his followers to hurt E. Jean Carroll—is that his trials are seemingly changing into workouts in ordering his followers to ignore the regulation, as he does, or to decide on their very own authorized endings, as he does. As a result of if he’s above the regulation, they have to be as effectively.

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