Judge won’t delay Trump’s defamation claims trial, calling the ex-president’s appeal frivolous
Aug 18, 2023, 12:52 PM
(AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)
NEW YORK (AP) — A New York federal judge expressed growing impatience Friday with what he calls ex-President Donald Trump’s “repeated efforts to delay” a defamation lawsuit against him, saying he won’t stop a January trial to await the outcome of a “frivolous” appeal of one of his rulings.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan made the remarks in a written ruling as he criticized arguments made by Trump’s lawyers in asking him to mothball the 2019 civil claims by a New York columnist who says Trump raped her in a luxury Manhattan department store dressing room in spring 1996.
“This case was largely stalled for years due in large part to Mr. Trump’s repeated efforts to delay,” Kaplan wrote. “Mr. Trump’s latest motion to stay — his fourth such request — is yet another such attempt to delay unduly the resolution of this matter.”
The ruling increases the likelihood that Trump will face the defamation lawsuit on Jan. 15, just as primary season begins in his quest to become the Republican nominee for president next year. The Iowa Republican caucuses are being held that day.
Meanwhile, Trump faces four criminal indictments elsewhere. In two cases, he was accused of seeking to overturn the results of the 2020 presidential election. He also faces a classified documents case in Florida and charges that he helped arrange a payoff to porn actor Stormy Daniels to silence her before the 2016 election. He has denied all charges.
In May, a jury awarded the writer, E. Jean Carroll, $5 million in damages, concluding she was sexually abused and defamed by Trump, though she was not raped. Her lawyers now seek another $10 million in compensatory damages and “substantially more” in punitive damages for remarks he made while president and after the jury verdict.
The defamation portion of the award pertained to remarks Trump made last October when he rejected knowing Carroll and insisted the sexual attack had never occurred and he was never in the store with her.
Before reaching its verdict, the jury heard the 79-year-old writer testify at length about how her romantic life virtually ended after Trump turned a fun, flirtatious chance encounter at a Bergdorf Goodman store into a violent assault. Trump, 77, did not attend the trial.
Defamation claims pertaining to remarks Trump made in 2019 after Carroll revealed her rape claims for the first time publicly in a memoir and remarks he made after May’s verdict would be considered at the January trial.
Carroll’s lawyers are planning for the January trial to consist solely of a damages phase, relying on the May jury’s verdict regarding sexual abuse.
Kaplan has rejected Trump’s claims that he is entitled to immunity because he was president when he commented in 2019.
His lawyers asked Kaplan to put the January plans on hold, saying there was a substantial likelihood Trump would succeed on appeal.
Kaplan said Friday the arguments were “without merit” and Trump had “shown no likelihood of success on appeal.”
Thus, Kaplan ruled, “this Court certifies that Mr. Trump’s appeal is frivolous.”
Lawyers for Trump did not immediately return email messages seeking comment.