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The following is presented as part of The Columbian’s Opinion content, which offers a point of view in order to provoke thought and debate of civic issues. Opinions represent the viewpoint of the author. Unsigned editorials represent the consensus opinion of The Columbian’s editorial board, which operates independently of the news department.

Estrich: Clearly, $83.3M wasn’t enough

By Susan Estrich
Published: March 18, 2024, 6:01am

The man can’t control himself.

In a nearly two-hour speech at a rally in Georgia last weekend, he told the audience: “I just posted a $91 million bond — $91 million on a fake story, totally made-up story. Ninety-one million based on false accusations made about me by a woman that I knew nothing about, didn’t know, never heard of. I know nothing about her.”

In fact, he was found liable for sexually abusing her, and twice found liable for defaming her.

That was on Saturday.

On Monday, he did it again on CNBC:

“If I didn’t win on appeal on these ridiculous decisions … including the Miss Bergdorf Goodman, a person I never — I never m — I have no idea who she is. Except one thing: I got sued. From that point on I said, ‘Wow, that’s crazy, what this is.’ I got charged. I was given a false accusation and had to post a $91 million bond on a false accusation.”

Actually, a jury found, he has met her. There are photos of the two of them together.

Roberta Kaplan, E. Jean Carroll’s lawyer, suggested there might now be a third lawsuit.

“The statute of limitations for defamation in most jurisdictions is between one and three years,” Kaplan said in a statement to The Washington Post. “As we said after the last jury verdict, we continue to monitor every statement that Donald Trump makes about our client, E. Jean Carroll.”

In fact, the statements Trump made on Saturday and Monday closely track the ones for which he was found liable twice already. Make sure it’s enough, Carroll’s lawyers asked the jury, to “make him stop.”

The jury awarded $83.3 million.

It wasn’t enough.

What does that say about Trump?

It’s not as if he has money to burn. He is faced with another demand to post even more to secure an appeal of his civil fraud verdict of more than $400 million, which his lawyers have suggested is more than he can come up with.

While Trump could argue that Carroll has already been compensated for the damage to her reputation, the case for punitive damages — the argument that $83.3 million was not enough — is self-evident.

And by repeating the comments he made in Georgia on CNBC, broadcast from New York, he opened himself up to a return visit to Judge Lewis Kaplan in the Southern District of New York — the same judge who presided over his last two trials with Carroll.

By his own actions, Trump makes clear that he considers himself unbound by the law.

It’s not just that he has no respect for the woman he abused. He also has no respect for the rules.

Told to stop defaming this woman, he simply doesn’t.

He clearly cares about money — money matters to Donald Trump — but even tens of millions of dollars is not enough to make him obey the law.

It should come as no surprise. This is, after all, his approach to all of his legal problems.

His response to the 91 felony counts against him is that he is immune from criminal liability as a former president, that he could order the assassination of a political rival and could not be prosecuted for it.

What does he respect?

According to the most troubling revelation this week, Adolf Hitler and the “loyalty” his generals showed to him earned Trump’s respect.

His former chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, told CNN’s Jim Sciutto that Trump said that Hitler “did some good things” and expressed admiration for Hitler’s ability to command the absolute “loyalty” of his generals.

“He truly believed, when he brought us generals in, that we would be loyal — that we would do anything he wanted us to do,” Kelly told Sciutto, for a book that came out Tuesday.

Loyalty above the law is a frightening object of admiration, but not a surprising one for a man who believes he is above the law, and $83.3 million was clearly not enough to convince him otherwise.