Attorneys for E. Jean Carroll, the author and journalist who claims Donald Trump defamed her when he called her rape accusation a lie, filed a motion in opposition to the president’s request for a stay on Tuesday afternoon. Carroll, who has alleged Trump raped her in mid-1990s in a Manhattan department store dressing room, said that the delay tactics by the president and his lawyers are all geared towards stopping the “truth from ever coming out.”
In case you missed it two weeks ago, Trump responded to demands that he provide a DNA sample in Carroll’s defamation lawsuit by claiming that her requests were “burdensome.” He then asked the court to delay the proceedings until he is able to fully litigate separate defamation claims brought by former The Apprentice contestant Summer Zervos. Carroll’s lawyers say that the Zervos case likely won’t be decided until after Nov. 2020 (i.e. after the election), explaining Trump’s attempt to delay the Carroll lawsuit through the Zervos case.
Carroll claims that the “Donna Karan coat-dress” she was wearing at the time of the alleged rape has been hanging on the back of her closet door and remained “unworn and unlaundered since that evening.” An analysis of the dress revealed the DNA of at least one unidentified male, which Carroll’s attorneys want to compare with a sample of President Trump’s DNA.
The president’s attorneys countered that Trump is immune from any state court lawsuit while in office and is, therefore, immune to Carroll’s “numerous and burdensome discovery requests,” such as the requested DNA swab.
Carroll’s lawyers said Tuesday that, in a way, Trump deserves some credit.
“Indeed, while Trump’s takes on this case and Zervos have been remarkably inconsistent (even contradictory), Trump deserves credit for consistently doing everything possible to avoid discovery about and a jury determination of his conduct in both cases,” the filing said.
The alleged stonewalling was described in the opening lines of the motion in opposition to a stay:
Trump, for his part, has done everything he can to stop the truth from ever coming out. When the case began, he refused to accept service of the Complaint, forcing Carroll to seek leave to serve him through alternative means. Next, he filed a motion to dismiss based on the specious argument that he is not subject to jurisdiction in New York, just so that he could ask that discovery be halted. When that effort failed, Carroll served formal discovery requests on Trump, including one seeking a cheek swab for DNA to be compared against unidentified male DNA on the dress that Carroll wore during the attack. Not surprisingly, mere days after receiving the DNA request, Trump filed the instant motion to stay this action pending a decision in Zervos v. Trump—a case that he previously claimed was so different from this one that they should not be assigned to the same judge.
Carroll’s lawyers are calling the president’s push for a stay “too little, too late.”
“But this latest effort to stop Carroll’s action in its tracks is too little, too late. The law is clear that stays are a drastic remedy reserved for extraordinary circumstances,” they argued. ‘The mere pendency of a separate appeal that could result in a change of law is insufficient, particularly where, as here, there is binding precedent on point and resolution of the appeal is by no means imminent.”
In the closing lines of the motion, they asserted that being president doesn’t grant Trump automatic entitlement to a stay of the lawsuit.
“The unique circumstances of this case make a stay all the more inappropriate: Trump’s motion is just the latest attempt to prevent Carroll from having her day in court, and a stay would compound the harms to Carroll that Trump’s defamatory statements continue to cause,” the filing said. “Trump’s status as president does not automatically entitle him to a stay either, and nothing in Trump’s extensive history of personal litigation during his presidency supports his bald assertion that discovery into whether he lied about raping Carroll will harm the national interest.”
Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said in a statement obtained by Law&Crime that Trump is trying to delay, delay, delay until the 2020 election has come and gone.
“Our client filed this lawsuit to prove that Donald Trump lied about sexually assaulting her and to restore her credibility and reputation. From the very beginning, Trump has tried every tactic lawyers can think of to halt this case in its tracks and keep the truth from coming out,” Kaplan said. “His latest effort — a motion to stay our client’s case until the New York Court of Appeals decides the Summer Zervos case likely after November 2020 — is yet another obvious delay tactic that is not grounded in the law and, like his previous attempts to stall this case, will be rejected by the court.”
Read the filing below.
Jerry Lambe contributed to this report.
[Image via Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Glamour]