Judge Slams Trump for Delay Tactics in Rape Defamation Case

·3 min read
Joe Raedle
Joe Raedle

For nearly three years, former President Donald Trump has avoided facing journalist E. Jean Carroll in court on accusations that he raped her then defamed her when he claimed “she’s not my type" and said she was lying. A federal judge has finally had enough.

In a court order Friday, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan berated Trump’s “bad faith” delay tactics and shot down his latest maneuver: an attempt to use New York’s recently expanded free speech legal protections.

“[Carroll’s] only claim in this case is a single count of defamation. It could have been tried and decided—one way or the other—long ago. The record convinces the court that the defendant’s litigation tactics, whatever their intent, have delayed the case,” Kaplan wrote.

It’s Back On! E. Jean Carroll Suit Against Trump Moves Ahead

“My client E. Jean Carroll and I could not agree more,” Robbie Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, said in a statement to The Daily Beast.

Carroll is a journalist whose "Ask E. Jean" column ran in Elle magazine for nearly 30 years. In June 2019, New York Magazine ran an excerpt from her book in which she claimed—in detail—how Trump raped her in the dressing room of the high-end Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman decades ago. When Trump was asked about the accusations at the White House, he whipped out the most distasteful defense imaginable.

“I’ll say it with great respect. Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?” he told reporters.

Carroll sued for defamation in New York state court, then shifted her lawsuit to federal court.

In his order on Friday, the judge described how Trump took both usual and ridiculous steps to prevent the case from moving forward. The former president tried to avoid being served—that is, receiving an official notice that he was sued—by remaining fortified in the White House or his luxury condo in Manhattan. Then, famously, he used the taxpayer-funded Justice Department to defend him and tried to make the United States of America the real defendant in the case. Last month, Trump tried to launch an offensive defense by utilizing New York’s so-called anti-SLAPP laws, which would theoretically shield his actions under the guise of free speech.

Judge Kaplan’s order killed that.

“While we are disappointed with the court’s decision today, we eagerly look forward to litigating this action and proving at trial that the plaintiff’s claims have absolutely no basis in law or in fact,” said Alina Habba, Trump’s defense lawyer in the case.

Biden DOJ Will Keep Defending Trump on Rape Defamation Case

But before this goes to a jury trial, both sides have to wait for a federal appeals court to decide a relatively opaque issue with huge implications: whether Trump was acting in his official capacity as the president of the United States when he said she wasn’t his type.

In that case, the Department of Justice has taken the odd stance of defending the former president—a decision that has gained widespread condemnation for Attorney General Merrick Garland.

If the appellate court decides Trump was acting on his own, Carroll’s case would likely go to a jury trial fairly quickly. And it would be a historic trial, pitting a journalist against the former president in open court.

But there’s a potential weapon in Carroll’s pocket if New York passes proposed legislation called the “Adult Survivor’s Act,” which would give rape victims—whose claims are otherwise too old to act on because of the state’s current statute of limitations—a special one-year window to sue. If that act becomes law, Carroll is expected to sue Trump yet again.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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