Mr. Trump lashed out on social media soon after the verdict, attacking the civil trial as a “Biden Directed Witch Hunt” despite the fact that Ms. Carroll sued Mr. Trump in 2019, before he had left office and while Mr. Biden was just one of many Democratic presidential candidates.
The verdict was an extraordinary moment for a front-runner in a presidential nominating contest. A jury penalized Mr. Trump $83.3 million for defamation just three days after he had won a second nominating contest — in New Hampshire, by 11 percentage points. Mr. Trump also faces 91 felony counts in four separate criminal cases.
“Absolutely ridiculous,” Mr. Trump wrote on his social media platform, Truth Social, of the verdict, adding, “Our Legal System is out of control, and being used as a Political Weapon. They have taken away all First Amendment Rights. THIS IS NOT AMERICA!”
Surrogates for Mr. Trump’s campaign also criticized the verdict. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia wrote on social media that Mr. Trump “was denied a fair trial in NY where judges are now political” activists. Representative Elise Stefanik of New York, who is seen by many to be in the running to be Mr. Trump’s vice president, said the trial was an effort by Democrats to weaponize the justice system and “bankrupt” Mr. Trump.
Ms. Carroll accused Mr. Trump in 2019 of raping her in a department store dressing room decades earlier. Last May, a different Manhattan jury awarded her $5 million after finding Mr. Trump liable for sexually abusing her and for defaming her in a social media post.