Trump's defamation trial delayed over sick juror. His possible testimony won't come before Wednesday.

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NEW YORK — E. Jean Carroll's defamation damages trial against Donald Trump was postponed on Monday due to a sick juror, and the judge has pushed the proceedings − and Trump's possible testimony − back to Wednesday.

Whether the 2024 Republican front-runner will take the stand remains to be seen. Polls open Tuesday in the New Hampshire primary, as Trump's myriad legal issues and the former president's steamroller campaign continue to collide.

News of the trial delay came as Judge Lewis Kaplan again denied a Team Trump request for a mistrial over Carroll's admission that she had deleted threatening messages she said she'd received from Trump supporters after publicly accusing him of rape in 2019. “That motion is going to be denied,” Kaplan said.

Juror to be tested for COVID-19

Judge Kaplan told lawyers for Trump and Carroll Monday morning that one juror wasn't feeling well and had been asked to get tested for COVID-19. Trump lawyer Alina Habba, who said she had been exposed to COVID-19 during a recent visit with her parents, also wasn't feeling well. Both she and Trump lawyer Michael Madaio have tested negative, she said.

Carroll lawyer Roberta Kaplan asked the judge to proceed with the trial Monday, but he granted Habba's request for a delay. The results of the juror's test would help determine if the trial resumes Tuesday, the judge said. Later on Monday, an update on the case docket stated the trial wouldn't restart until Wednesday morning.

Habba had asked for arrangements to allow Trump to testify Wednesday, saying he will be tied up with the New Hampshire Republican primary Tuesday. "He was planning to testify," she said.

Trump did not attend court Monday morning.

More: Judge shoots down Trump's mistrial request in New York fraud case, calling claims 'nonsensical'

Defamation and damages

Carroll testified last week that Trump "shattered" her reputation and caused her to live in fear through two lengthy denials of her sexual assault allegation in 2019, including his statement that "people should pay dearly for such false accusations." A jury ruled in a separate civil case in May that Trump had sexually abused Carroll in a New York department store in the mid-1990s.

That verdict carried over to the current civil case, where a new jury is only looking at whether Trump should pay damages — which could be big.

Carroll's legal team has argued not just that Trump should pay damages for the direct harm he caused, but that the financial bill should be enough that even a "self-proclaimed billionaire" will want to stop defaming their client.

Even during the trial, Trump has continued posting on social media that Carroll's accusation is untrue and part of a witch hunt. On Thursday, he posted a series of old tweets by Carroll, an advice columnist who worked at Elle magazine for decades, having to do with sex and relationships between men and women. He did the same Monday.

Trump in court for E. Jean Carroll defamation suit
Trump in court for E. Jean Carroll defamation suit

According to a lawyer for Carroll, the behavior has extended to the courtroom, where Judge Kaplan has already ruled Trump can't argue the allegations are untrue in light of the prior jury's verdict. The lawyer said she overheard the Republican presidential frontrunner commenting within the jury's earshot that Carroll's allegations were a "witch hunt" and "con job." The judge threatened to expel Trump if he disrupts proceedings.

Will Trump testify?

Trump has talked big about his plans for the trial.

He said at a Jan. 11 press conference that he planned to attend and "explain I don't know who the hell she is." On Wednesday, he complained on social media of the judge's refusal to cancel Thursday's proceedings for his mother-in-law's funeral, adding he wants "to be at this Witch Hunt 100% of the time and watch what is going on."

Habba said in a pre-trial letter to the court that Trump can offer "considerable testimony" even within the confines of not being able to deny Carroll's assault accusation. That includes the circumstances surrounding his 2019 denials, which could help show Trump didn't act maliciously and shouldn't face punitive damages, she said.

The lawyer Roberta Kaplan (left) is seen with E. Jean Carroll outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse as the defamation civil trial continues against former President Donald Trump continues in New York City on Jan. 22, 2024.
The lawyer Roberta Kaplan (left) is seen with E. Jean Carroll outside the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse as the defamation civil trial continues against former President Donald Trump continues in New York City on Jan. 22, 2024.

Judge Kaplan ruled Trump would be able to testify Monday even if both sides were otherwise done putting on their cases. As it turned out, Carroll didn't rest her case in advance of Monday's proceedings, and the defense can't call its own witnesses until she does.

Trump backed out of testifying in December as a defense witness in his New York civil fraud trial, where he is fighting the threat of being barred from ever running a New York business again. He later attacked the New York attorney general and the judge from the courtroom in brief closing remarks at the trial, which weren't subject to cross-examination.

In a Saturday letter to Judge Kaplan, Carroll lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation to the judge) said her concern was growing that Trump would use any testimony he gives as a campaign event. She cited his courtroom comments so far, including telling the judge he "would love" to be kicked out, and asked Judge Kaplan to ensure his testimony is properly restricted.

Trump was campaigning in New Hampshire on Sunday ahead of the state's Tuesday Republican presidential primary.

Another mistrial request

After last week's courtroom proceedings ended on Thursday, Habba filed a written mistrial request on Friday, which echoed an already-rejected oral request she made in court. Habba pointed to Carroll's testimony about deleting death threats.

Carroll testified that she may have deleted death threats after she filed her lawsuit, characterizing the deletions as an emotional reaction. The Trump team said it violated a rule to preserve electronic information during litigation.

More: In E. Jean Carroll case, expert says Trump could owe $12M (or much more) for defamation

Carroll lawyer Roberta Kaplan shot back Sunday that the question-and-answer exchange on deleting messages "was not a model of clarity" and couldn't possibly show Trump has been denied the right to a fair trial.

Habba said in the Friday motion that, if the judge denied the mistrial request, she wanted him to block Carroll from seeking damages related to any death threat. She also asked him to consider instructing the jury to draw a negative inference against Carroll when it ultimately decides the case.

Judge Kaplan said Monday the motion would be denied in all respects, and he will follow up with a written decision.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: E. Jean Carroll trial updates: Trump defamation case continues