Lawyers for E. Jean Carroll are no longer seeking to depose former President Donald Trump in their defamation lawsuit, saying doing so would cause too much delay.
Roberta Kaplan, who represents Carroll, told reporters after a nearly one-hour federal court hearing Tuesday that they changed their minds given the former President’s history of litigation and a desire to go to trial as quickly as possible
Kaplan is still seeking a sample of Trump’s DNA, however.
Carroll sued Trump in 2019 alleging he defamed her when he denied her allegations that Trump raped her in a New York department store dressing room in the mid 1990s, said she was not his type, and alleged she made the claim to boost sales of her book. Trump has denied the assault.
On Tuesday, Carroll told reporters she would “never settle” the lawsuit, saying she is fighting not just for herself but for all women who have been assaulted.
Kaplan said she is “perfectly happy to question” Trump on the witness stand, if the case were to go to trial, describing the lawsuit as a “he said, she said” case.
After the court hearing, Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said the decision to no longer seek Trump’s deposition was “surprising” and that it was the “first I heard of it.”
The change in strategy was raised in a court hearing Tuesday related to Trump’s effort to amend his response to Carroll’s defamation lawsuit and counter-sue under New York’s amended anti-SLAPP law, which can be used to counter frivolous defamation lawsuits.
In the filing, Trump’s lawyers alleged Carroll sued Trump as “retribution” for his truthful statements and “for the sole purpose of harassing, punishing or otherwise maliciously inhibiting his free exercise of speech.”
Carroll’s attorneys have opposed the motion, saying Trump waited too long to bring the claim and suggested it was a delay tactic. “The impropriety of Trump’s undue delay is magnified by its consistency with a larger pattern of bad faith and dilatory measures throughout this litigation,” her attorneys wrote in a court brief.
Judge Lewis Kaplan was skeptical of Trump’s attorneys’ arguments in court Tuesday.
“The whole thing cannot be applied in federal court. Period. Exclamation point,” the judge said.
Habba argued there were broader public policy issues at play and that decision would render the anti-SLAPP laws toothless and lead to forum shopping.
Judge Kaplan said, “Sometimes it is a product of a federalist system.” He did not rule on the arguments.
The defamation case is still on hold while the parties wait for a decision from an appeals court on whether Carroll’s defamation lawsuit could proceed.
Trump and the Justice Department are appealing Judge Kaplan’s previous ruling that it could move ahead. Trump and DOJ argued Trump was a federal employee and his statements denying Carroll’s allegations were made in response to reporters’ questions while he was at the White House. They argued the Justice Department should be substituted as the defendant, which, because the government cannot be sued for defamation, would end the lawsuit.