Trump's Lawyers Continue Pattern Of Bad Faith F*ckery In E. Jean Carroll Defamation Case
In roughly 10 weeks, come hell or high water, E. Jean Carroll will finally get her day in court. It's been a hell of a long time coming, with Donald Trump continuing his decades-long campaign of abusing women (allegedly) by abusing the legal process (not allegedly). So it seems like a good time to recap the case so far, including the fireworks this week.
In 2019, the advice columnist E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a department store dressing room in the mid-90s. Her account of the assault appeared in her book What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal, and an excerpt from it which appeared in New York magazine. Trump immediately went on the offensive, telling reporters that he'd never met her, that she was in cahoots with evil Democrats, that she made false accusations against lots of men (Carroll was one of 13 women who accuse CBS's Les Moonves of sexual assault), that she was only in it for the money, and that anyway he could not have raped her because she wasn't his type.
In October of 2022, Trump admitted under oath that he had no basis for believing any of the things he'd said but "when people accuse me of something, I think I have a right to be insulting." This rather undercut his later claim that he made the statements as a part of his official presidential duties, as did in a Truth Social post in 2022 reiterating each and every one of his gross allegations. Similarly Trump's implication that Carroll was too unattractive to rape was undercut when he looked at a photo of Carroll from the 90s and repeatedly mistook her for his second wife Marla Maples, who was presumably his type.
Back in 2019, Carroll sued Trump for defamation in New York state court, only to have the then-president duck the process server, contest jurisdiction, and refuse to cooperate with discovery. When every other avenue was exhausted and he was finally ordered to submit his DNA to match male genetic material found on the dress Carroll wore the day of the attack, then-Attorney General Bill Barr tried to remove the case to federal court and attempt to substitute the government as defendant. The success or failure of that gambit is still in doubt — the issue of whether Trump was acting within the scope of his presidential duties under DC law when he slagged Carroll in 2019 is currently before the DC Court of Appeals. But in the meantime, Carroll filed a second defamation suit for the 2022 social media post, adding a sexual battery count under New York's recently enacted Adult Survivors Act.
In both these cases, known as Carroll I and Carroll II, Trump's lawyers appear to have gone out of their way to piss off US District Judge Lewis Kaplan. Which is a weird strategy, TBQH.
The former president was initially represented in Carroll I by his longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz, but in 2021 attorney Alina Habba entered her appearance. Habba and Trump recently got slapped with a million dollars in sanctions in the batcrap RICO suit they filed in Florida against Hillary Clinton and half of DC, and her conduct here has been only slightly less egregious. The court has already reamed her out on multiple occasions and described Trump's legal strategy as at least partly "dilatory" and in "bad faith." Then two weeks ago Joseph Tacopina, a highly experienced trial lawyer with dozens of celebrity clients, took control of Carroll II. No more shenanigans, he assured Judge Kaplan last week, promising that “If you say April, I’m trying it in April. I’m not running from this obligation.”
Turns out ... not so much. On Thursday, the Daily Beast's Jose Pagliery reported that Trump's legal team was preparing to offer to submit to the DNA test, after three years of flatly refusing it. If successful, this would allow Trump to tell jurors that he'd offered his DNA, and Carroll had refused it.
Now, to be clear, discovery in this case is over. You do not get to reopen discovery absent a really freakin' good reason, and, furthermore, it is Judge Kaplan's regular practice to keep these disputes off the public docket at least in part because they tend to prejudice potential jurors.
And yet! On Friday, Tacopina docketed a letter motion purportedly seeking a missing appendix to the 2020 DNA report on the dress which was originally filed in state court. Letter motions are filed on the docket, so Trump was conveniently allowed to make a public offer to trade his DNA for the omitted pages.
“Mr. Trump’s DNA is either on the dress or it is not. Why is Plaintiff now hiding from this reality?” he sneered. “We surmise that the answer to that question is that she knows his DNA is not on the dress because the alleged sexual assault never occurred.”
Carroll's lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation to the judge), responded furiously in her own letter, pointing out the impropriety of attempted to reopen discovery on the eve of trial, noting that forensic testing at this late date would by necessity force a delay of trial, and accusing Trump of seeking to poison the jury pool.
Tacopina denied that the testing and concomitant legal wrangling of another expert witness would force a delay — a patently absurd assertion — and accused Carroll of prejudicing potential jurors by writing her book in 2019 and promoting it.
This morning Judge Kaplan denied Trump's motion in a FURIOUS order which characterized the late motion as either a deliberate, bad faith effort to manipulate the court, or an act of gross incompetence:
The patently untimely request for the appendix thus reflects either a tactical shift or just an afterthought. One possible explanation is that it is an attempt to reverse a deliberate tactical decision by Mr. Trump's counsel not to raise the question of the appendix over the past three years, a decision perhaps the product of a belief that asking for the appendix might well have resulted in renewed demands for Mr. Trump's DNA. Another possible explanation is a negligent failure to read the report with any care over the entire three-year period and thus the failure to notice the lack of the appendix. But whatever the explanation, the effort comes too late.
These are not words you want to hear from a judge presiding over your imminent trial. Nor do you want him audibly rolling his eyes at your blasé claim that the blatant violation of agreed upon discovery timelines will have no affect on the trial schedule.
So, this is all going swell. Can't wait to see what crazy shit they come up with in the next ten weeks. Might this be a strategy to provoke a mistrial, or better still, get the case reassigned to a different judge by provoking Judge Kaplan to leap across the bench and pummel the defendant's counsel?
If so, you heard it here first. MUST CREDIT WONKETTE.
[Carroll I, Docket via Court Listener / Carroll II, Docket via Court Listener / Daily Beast]
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Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.