E. Jean Carroll is seen outside State Supreme Court on March 4, 2020, in New York. Caroll is suing Donald Trump for defamation.
Alec Tabak for New York Daily News | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump has yet to decide if he will attend his upcoming rape defamation trial, his attorney told a federal judge Thursday.
Trump and E. Jean Carroll — the writer accusing the ex-president of raping her in a department store in the 1990s and then defaming her when she took her story public — faced a Thursday deadline to tell the judge about their attendance plans for the trial.
The defamation trial is scheduled to begin in U.S. District Court in Manhattan next Tuesday. In a new court filing posted Thursday afternoon, Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina told Judge Lewis Kaplan that he could not make a commitment around attendance — yet.
Trump’s decision “will be made during the course of the trial,” Tacopina wrote. For that reason, “we are not yet in a position to advise the Court in this regard,” he told the judge.
“However, we will inform the Court as soon as a decision is reached, particularly in light of the logistical concerns that will need to be addressed in coordination with the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the City of New York,” the lawyer wrote.
Carroll plans to attend the entire trial and testify under oath before the jury, her lawyer noted Wednesday in a letter to Kaplan.
If Trump doesn’t show up to the trial, Tacopina on Wednesday asked Kaplan to tell the jury that the former president’s absence would be sparing “logistical burdens” on the courthouse and New York City. Carroll’s counsel criticized that request as “frivolous,” and the judge ultimately rejected it on Thursday.
“There shall be no reference by counsel for Mr. Trump in the presence of the jury panel or the trial jury to Mr. Trump’s alleged desire to testify or to the burdens that any absence on his part allegedly might spare, or might have spared, the Court or the City of New York,” the judge wrote Thursday.
Both parties’ lawyers noted to Kaplan that Trump has traveled to New York recently in order to respond to separate legal matters.
Earlier this month, Trump was arrested and arraigned in Manhattan on dozens of charges of falsifying business records in connection to hush money payments made before the 2016 presidential election. The indictment from Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg made Trump the first ex-president ever to face criminal charges.
Tacopina, who is also defending Trump in that case, cited the spectacle caused by his arraignment to bolster his argument that it may be too difficult for him to show up for Carroll’s trial.
Carroll’s lawyer, in her reply to Tacopina, noted that Trump has also recently come to Manhattan to sit for a deposition with the New York Attorney General’s office, which is prosecuting a civil case into the former president’s business practices.
She also noted that Trump, now a leading contender for the 2024 presidential nomination, is scheduled to travel to New Hampshire for a campaign event in late April — “in other words, in the middle of the trial in this case.”
If he can attend those and other events, “then surely he could surmount the logistics of attending his own federal trial,” Carroll’s attorney wrote.
Carroll’s lawsuit alleges that Trump raped her in a dressing room of the New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. She came forward with the accusation in 2019, while Trump was president.
Trump accused Carroll of lying, and told news outlet The Hill, “She’s not my type.” He lashed out at her again in 2022, accusing her of changing her story and “promoting a really crummy book.”