Trump Seeks to Delay Looming Depositions of Sex Assault Accusers

(Bloomberg) -- A writer who claims Donald Trump sexually assaulted her during an interview and a former saleswoman who says he groped her on an airplane are among the witnesses whose testimony in a defamation suit he is seeking to put on hold.

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The women are set to be deposed by lawyers for New York columnist E. Jean Carroll, who alleges the former president raped her two decades ago in a department store dressing room and then defamed her by denying it. Her lawyers say the testimony will show there is a well-established pattern of Trump assaulting women. He denies it all.

Now Trump, who himself is set to be questioned under oath on Oct. 19 in the defamation case, wants all the depositions called off until there’s a ruling on his motion to delay the suit, his lawyer Alina Habba said in a filing in federal court in Manhattan Tuesday. Beyond that, she said, her client is “ready and eager” to testify.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan has asked the court to keep the depositions on track, arguing that Trump has delayed the process long enough.

Claims of Assault

Jessica Leeds, who claims Trump groped her when they sat next to each other in first class on a flight three decades ago, and Natasha Stoynoff, who alleges he attacked her at his Mar-a-Lago resort when she was interviewing him for People magazine in 2005, are both set to be deposed Oct. 13, according to a Sept. 30 court filing.

Leeds and Stoynoff went public with their claims before the 2016 presidential election Trump won. Such claims gained traction at the time after a decade-old tape emerged of Trump speaking in crude, unguarded terms to Billy Bush of “Access Hollywood” about groping women, adultery and similar acts.

Read More: Trump Was US Employee When He Denied Rape Claim, Court Rules

Carroll, who is due to be deposed by Trump’s lawyers on Oct. 14, made her allegations public in 2019 and then sued Trump for defamation when he denied her allegations, accusing her of lying and saying she wasn’t his “type.”

Habba didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on the coming depositions. Trump has denied ever attacking or assaulting women.

Questioning Stephanie Grisham

Trump’s accusers aren’t the only ones being deposed in the case. Former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham, who was on the job when Trump made the allegedly defamatory remarks about Carroll and who resigned after the assault on the US Capitol, is due to be questioned on Thursday. Women Carroll said she confided in after the alleged attack also will be deposed.

Habba, Trump’s lawyer, asked for a telephone conference with the judge to discuss the matter. She said it would be “a waste of the parties’ time and resources to engage in such intensive discovery proceedings while a motion to stay is pending,” referring to the parties’ exchange of evidence in a case.

Trump last week won part of his appeal over whether Carroll’s suit is barred by a statute that broadly protects government workers from lawsuits related to their job duties. The federal appeals court in New York agreed with him that presidents qualify as employees under the law but asked the District of Columbia’s highest local court to determine whether his allegedly defamatory remarks about Carroll qualified as an official duty.

Habba said in a filing on Monday seeking to put the case on hold that Carroll “failed to present any tenable argument as to why this case should proceed” before the local DC court resolves the remaining question.

Seeking Trump’s DNA

Carroll wants to press ahead with the depositions, including Trump’s, while the appeal continues. She is also seeking a DNA sample from Trump.

Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, said in a separate letter to the court that the case should proceed through the discovery process because her client has already handed over more than 30,000 pages of records sought by Trump, while Trump has handed over just eight documents. She said the appeals court finding “changed hardly anything.”

Habba called that argument “asinine and manifestly false” and said her request to put the case on hold is “extremely time-sensitive.”

Carroll signaled in a recent filing in the lower court that she is planning to sue Trump under New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which goes into effect in November.

The case is Carroll v. Trump, 20-03977, 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals (Manhattan).

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