Relish What One Person Can Do To Defend The Rule Of Law

A lot of things happened. Here are some of the things. This is TPM’s Morning Memo. Sign up for the email version.

E. Jean Carroll Secures Justice

It was a win for the ages.

A former president accused of rape and of defaming his victim by denying it.

The victim (though her strength, resilience, and aplomb defy use of that term) has now won two federal jury verdicts in NYC in the matter worth tens of millions of dollars.

Carroll v. Trump in both its iterations reaffirmed that no one is above the law, demonstrated that an experienced jurist can bring Trump to heel, and confirmed that the legal system can sternly punish those who discredit it and act with impunity to violate the law.

The nearly $90 million in judgments against Trump and in favor of Carroll put a nice, big, fat number on top of the underlying principles that were defended and ultimately vindicated.

I registered disappointment in some quarters that Carroll’s $83.3 million verdict Friday wasn’t as big in dollar terms as last month’s $148 million judgment in DC that bankrupted Rudy Giuliani. But the two verdicts compare favorably with each other and are arguably quite consistent.

First off, the Giuliani verdict involved two plaintiffs – Georgia election workers Ruby Freeman and Shaye Moss – so simply dividing their verdict in half (in truth, Moss won slightly more than Freeman) leaves each with $74 million. So in that rough sense Carroll won more than Freeman and Moss on a per capita basis.

Breaking it down a bit, Carroll won $18.3 million in compensatory damages compared to about $36 million apiece for Freeman and Moss. But she more than made up that difference with her punitive damages award of $65 million, quite a bit more than the $37.5 million apiece for Freeman and Moss.

Jury awards are notoriously difficult to compare, and these were in two different courts in two different parts of the country, with different defendants and claims. But I was struck less by how different the verdicts were than how similar.

While the gargantuan dollar figures enhance the schadenfreude, the real satisfaction is in seeing Carroll, Freeman and Moss individually striking blows for justice against a far more powerful figure and the forces arrayed behind him. It doesn’t always work that way, but it did here, and it is to their eternal credit that they bit the bullet and pursued their cases through to the end.

The Rule Of Law Applies To Everyone

A Fateful Introduction

You know the story by now. E. Jean Carroll met conservative lawyer and Trump foe George Conway at a party at the home of Molly Jong-Fast back in 2019. That chance meeting prompted Conway to introduce Carroll to attorney Roberta Kaplan, which eventually led to Carroll winning two defamation judgments against Trump for denying he raped her. Here’s Conway relishing in the $83 million damages verdict:

Savor It

  • Jessica Bennett: The Audacity of E. Jean Carroll
  • Joah Walsh: “If Attorney General Letitia James gets the $300 million she is seeking, suddenly, between that and the two Carroll awards, Trump is dangerously close to the $400 million he has testified he has in cash on hand.”
  • NYT: $83 Million Verdict Renews Spotlight on Trump’s Finances
  • NYT: Carroll Promises to Do ‘Something Good’ With a Fortune Won From Trump

Quote Of The Day

My advice to you is that you never disclose that you were on this jury and I won’t say anything more about it.

U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, to the jurors in the E. Jean Carroll defamation trial

Always Read The Footnotes

The Daily Beast:

[F]ormer federal judge Barbara Jones, the court-appointed special monitor in Donald Trump’s New York business fraud case, just planted a financial bombshell that legal experts say suggests Trump lied knowingly and repeatedly on his federal financial disclosures about a major loan that never existed—and may have evaded taxes on $48 million in income.

Scalia Undercut Trump’s Disqualification Clause Defense

Roger Parloff: What Justice Scalia Thought About Whether Presidents Are “Officers of the United States”

‘The Stakes Are Too High To Do Less Than Everything’

David Rothkopf and Bernard L. Schwartz on the threat posed by Donald Trump:

So, ask yourself, is that enough to make you do more than you have done? Is that enough to commit for the next 10 months to do more than you have ever done during an election year? To give more? To canvas more? To spread the word more? To help get voters to the polls? To ensure every member of your family, your friends, your co-workers do the same? The stakes are too high to do less than everything you can. The stakes are too high to allow this man to continue to play any role in American public life.

Our Political Religion

Heather Cox Richardson marked the 186th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s Lyceum Address, where he said:

 Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others. As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor;–let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the character of his own, and his children’s liberty. Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap–let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs;–let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

Keeping A Watchful Eye On Greg Abbott

University of Texas Law professor Steve Vladeck: What Texas is (and is not) doing to defy a Supreme Court setback

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Nikki Haley Watch

  • NYT: Why Nikki Haley Has So Few Friends Left in South Carolina Politics
  • Koch-aligned group tells donors that it’s still backing Haley but that she faces a steep climb.
  • Benjy Sarlin: In the aftermath of the E. Jean Carroll verdict, Haley takes her Trump critique farther than before by saying “I absolutely trust the jury.”
  • Haley calls Trump “totally unhinged”:

Biden Goes With ‘Loser’ Tag For Trump

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