Trump’s defamation trial is postponed until Wednesday, delaying Trump’s possible testimony

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NEW YORK — The judge overseeing Donald Trump’s federal defamation trial delayed proceedings until Wednesday, meaning any further testimony, including Trump’s, won’t occur until after Tuesday’s primary contest in New Hampshire.

The reason for the delay wasn’t immediately clear and U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan didn’t provide an explanation.

On Monday morning, Kaplan dismissed court for the day after a juror reported feeling ill. But Trump also requested a further delay, citing the primary contest.

During a brief exchange in court, Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba asked Kaplan to delay Trump’s own testimony until Wednesday. “My client reminded me tomorrow is the New Hampshire primary, and he needs to be in New Hampshire,” Habba said, with Trump, the Republican presidential frontrunner, seated alongside her.

Habba said Trump had arrived in court Monday “planning to testify.”

A lawyer for the plaintiff, writer E. Jean Carroll, objected to such a delay, telling Kaplan, “we’d like to get this trial over,” and adding, “I just think we should finish tomorrow.” The trial, which began last Tuesday, was expected to take between three and five days. The trial took a pre-planned break on Friday.

Kaplan did not immediately rule on Trump’s request to postpone the proceedings an extra day. But later on Monday, in a brief docket entry, he indicated that court would not be in session on Tuesday and would resume Wednesday. A court spokesperson did not comment on whether the cancellation of Tuesday’s session was due to the juror’s illness or was granted to accommodate Trump’s campaign schedule.

Carroll is suing Trump for defamation over remarks he made in 2019, while he was president, denying her allegation that he raped her in the dressing room of a department store in the mid-1990s.

In addition to the sick juror, health concerns arose Monday on Trump’s own legal team. Habba told the judge she attended a dinner over the weekend with her parents, who subsequently tested positive for Covid-19, and that she had been feverish. Trump’s other lawyer on the case, Michael Madaio, also dined with them, she said.

Kaplan said both lawyers had tested negative for Covid on Monday morning.

Habba, Madaio and Trump, who sat between his lawyers in court, went unmasked throughout Monday’s brief proceedings.