Libel trial in New York: Trump fined $83 million – it could be the beginning of his decline

Donald Trump was fined a record $83.3 million for continuing to defame the victim of his sexual assault. Possibly the beginning of his well-deserved downfall.

It had to catch up with him at some point. At some point his agitation had to have consequences. For months, Donald Trump had attacked and insulted judges, prosecutors and his numerous victims. For months he had profited politically from his numerous criminal trials, incited his supporters and collected millions in donations. Nothing seemed to be able to stop him.

Now the first serious blow: Trump must pay $83.3 million in damages because he continuously and maliciously defamed the subject of his sexual assault, the author E. Jean Carroll, calling her a liar and an impostor. In a single day, he made 40 comments about her on social media, many more than he made about his political opponents in the primaries. Carroll was then insulted, defamed and faced death threats by others.

The jury went beyond the victim’s request

83.3 million dollars (77 million euros) may be little for a man who boasts of owning 10 to 14 billion dollars. But first of all, this is greatly exaggerated – like everything with Donald Trump. And secondly, no one expected that the jury would hand down such a heavy sentence. Trump was recently sentenced to a fine of five million dollars in the case; Carroll had now demanded 24 million. The jury went many times beyond that.

What this essentially means is: Enough, Mister Trump!

The former president had made it a kind of ritual to parade the judiciary. He never followed any norms or laws and always got away with it. He made blatant lies the normality of political business, he threatened his opponents with imprisonment and the death penalty, and the Capitol was just right for him as a target for an attempted coup. He survived every impeachment trial, survived every political scandal and recently celebrated brilliant victories in his party’s primaries. Carroll’s lawyer summed it up: “He’s allowed to lie. He’s allowed to threaten. He’s allowed to ignore a jury’s verdict… Rules don’t apply to Donald Trump.”

But success went to his head. Trump did indeed believe he was above the law, as documented in his infamous 2016 statement: “I can shoot someone in the middle of 5th Avenue and still not lose any voters.” The blind devotion of his MAGA supporters seemed to serve as proof that he was untouchable, even before the independent court of a constitutional state.

This is the only way to understand that he behaved like Rumpelstiltskin in the courtroom. He cursed to himself and left the hall in a rage because Donald Trump doesn’t follow any rules or customs. He then called the verdict “absolutely ridiculous,” “a witch hunt led by Biden against me and the Republican Party. THIS IS NOT AMERICA.”

Relieved and satisfied: Author E. Jean Carroll leaving the courthouse in New York

© Getty Images

The heavy sentence that the seven men and two women unanimously agreed to is also a rebuke to this childish, narcissistic, disrespectful behavior that the jury was no longer willing to tolerate.

Further trials against Trump will follow

The New York ruling is just the beginning. The verdict will probably hit him even harder in a few days. The court could then revoke his business license in New York and impose a three-digit million dollar fine for financial fraud. It is quite possible that it will soon become apparent that the extremely rich real estate shark is not as rich as he always claims.

And these are just the proceedings in civil courts. Four criminal trials are still pending and, with a bit of luck, one could begin in the spring. It is doubtful whether Donald Trump will actually emerge stronger from this, as he always says. It is already clear that he will spend more time in the court dock than in the election campaign and that his outlandish behavior will only scare centrist voters away.

Perhaps people will look back on January 26th as the day on which his winning streak ended and the well-deserved crash began.