Donald Trump
Donald TrumpReuters

Four months after a civil trial jury found that Donald Trump abused and defamed advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, a federal judge ruled on Wednesday that still more of the Trump’s comments about her were libelous, reports The Associated Press.

The decision means that an upcoming second trial will concern only how much more he has to pay her.

The ruling stands to streamline significantly the second trial, set for January. It concerns remarks that Trump made in 2019, after Carroll first publicly claimed that he sexually attacked her in a dressing room after a chance meeting at a luxury department store in 1996.

The first trial, this spring, concerned the sexual assault allegation and whether some 2022 Trump comments were defamatory. Jurors awarded Carroll $5 million, finding that she was sexually abused but rejecting her allegation that she was raped.

“The jury considered and decided issues that are common to both cases — including whether Mr. Trump falsely accused Ms. Carroll of fabricating her sexual assault charge and, if that were so, that he did it with knowledge that this accusation was false” or acted with reckless disregard for the truth, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in Wednesday’s decision.

The judge wrote that the “substantive content” of the 2019 and 2022 statements was the same. And when the jury found that Trump indeed sexually abused Carroll, it effectively established that his 2019 statements also were false and defamatory, the judge said.

The former President appealed the original May ruling and filed a countersuit on June 27. Carroll in July asked the judge to dismiss Trump’s countersuit. A federal judge tossed out the countersuit in mid-August.

Carroll and her attorneys “look forward to trial limited to damages for the original defamatory statements Donald Trump made,” said her lawyer Roberta Kaplan, according to AP.

Trump lawyer Alina Habba said Wednesday that his legal team is confident that the jury verdict will be overturned, mooting the judge’s new decision.

At least for now, the trial is set to start Jan. 15, the day of the Iowa Republican caucuses.