Former President Trump’s attorney is pushing to delay proceedings, including Trump’s upcoming deposition, in a defamation case brought by a woman who accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s.
A federal appeals court handed Trump a partial victory last week by ruling that presidents are covered by a law granting broad legal immunity to government employees, but the panel asked the top local court in Washington to rule on whether Trump was acting “outside the scope” of his presidency under D.C. employment law when he made the allegedly defamatory statements casting doubt on the accuser’s credibility and demeaning her personal appearance.
Attorneys for E. Jean Carroll, Trump’s accuser, revealed in a Friday filing they are slated to depose Trump on Oct. 19.
But with the verdict now hinging upon the local D.C. court’s opinion, Trump’s attorney is asking the court to stay the proceedings.
“The D.C. Court of Appeals’ forthcoming ruling will be case-dispositive and, therefore, it would be highly prejudicial and inequitable for Defendant to engage in time consuming and expensive pre-trial preparation — much less proceed to trial — until this issue has been conclusively resolved,” wrote Trump attorney Alina Habba.
Carroll’s attorneys pushed back on Habba’s argument, saying the requests amounted to a delay tactic, also noting Carroll plans to sue Trump next month for the alleged sexual assault itself under a new New York law set to take effect in November.
“This case began on November 4, 2019, and it could hardly be clearer that Defendant hopes to ‘run out the clock’ until he is elected president again,” Caroll’s attorney wrote.
She said Trump’s team went along with the discovery phase of the trial for months to gain access to documents from Carroll, and last week’s ruling “changed hardly anything.”
“A mere change in venue to D.C. for that ongoing appeal does not explain — and certainly does not justify — Defendant’s about-face on whether discovery should continue while the appellate process unfolds,” Carroll’s attorney wrote.
Trump’s attorney also wrote that the federal government must be named as the defendant following the appeals court’s ruling. But Carroll’s attorney rebuffed that argument, citing Supreme Court precedent that Trump’s team later claimed was “cherry-picking lines.”
Carroll’s attorney also argued Trump cannot make both asks simultaneously, because if the court does substitute the federal government as the defendant, Trump’s personal attorney would have no standing to ask for a pause in the proceedings.
“Plaintiff’s refusal to concede that a stay is proper at this time is perplexing and flies in the face of both Supreme Court precedent and the plain language of the Westfall Act,” Trump’s attorney responded on Monday.
Trump in a 2019 interview with The Hill said Carroll was “totally lying” when she accused him of raping her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. The remark was one of multiple cited by Carroll as evidence of defamation.
“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type,” Trump said. “Number two, it never happened. It never happened, OK?”