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Donald Trump asks to delay E. Jean Carroll trial one month, wants ‘cooling off’ from indictment

Trump leaving before arraignment April 4, 2023.

Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday, April 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Former President Donald Trump’s attorneys asked to delay his civil trial in a case filed by rape accuser E. Jean Carroll, describing the requested adjournment as a “cooling off” period between his indictment and the empaneling of the jury.

“Holding the trial of this case a mere three weeks after these historic events will guarantee that many, if not most, prospective jurors will have the criminal allegations top of mind when judging President Trump’s defense against Ms. Carroll’s allegations,” Trump’s attorney Joseph Tacopina wrote in a four-page letter.

Describing the throngs of press and protesters at Trump’s arraignment as a “carnival atmosphere,” Tacopina noted that the “wall-to-wall media coverage of the criminal case” produced “at least 60,000 day-of news stories.”

Tacopina, who represents the former president in both civil and criminal matters, noted that both civil cases related to Trump’s “alleged sexual misconduct.”

“Jurors selected to hear Ms. Carroll’s allegations against President Trump will have the breathless coverage of President Trump’s alleged extra-marital affair with Stormy Daniels still ringing in their ears if trial goes forward as scheduled,” his letter states. “To avoid this egregious violation of President Trump’s constitutional rights, the trial should be adjourned for a brief period to allow the media frenzy to recede.”

Trump’s legal team proposed a new date in late May.

That’s the same month that another grand jury in Fulton County, Georgia, is expected to be seated to consider more charges against the former president over attempts to overturn the 2020 election results, according to the New York Times. The letter requesting an adjournment, signed by both Tacopina and Alina Habba, does not mention the possibility of additional indictments against the former president.

It is also silent on Department of Justice special counsel Jack Smith’s investigation into Trump’s handling, retention and suspected obstruction into the recovery of highly classified documents — and the former president’s role in the Jan. 6th attack on the U.S. Capitol.

The attorneys do not state whether they would seek to push back the trial date again if their client’s criminal liabilities continue to mount.

In prior rulings, Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan has repeatedly skewered what he’s described as delay tactics by Trump’s legal team.

In a scathing ruling from March 2022, Judge Kaplan found that Trump’s “litigation tactics have had a dilatory effect and, indeed, strongly suggest that he is acting out of a strong desire to delay any opportunity [that Carroll] may have to present her case against him.” The judge noted that Carroll was 78 years old at the time of his ruling, adding that the relevance of her age is “obvious.”

Kaplan has made clear that he fully intends to stick to the trial date he set for April 25, 2023, but in their letter, Trump’s lawyers raised the specter of a possible appeal on this issue, if the judge denies an adjournment.

“To arbitrarily deny a continuance and thus substantially impair the defense would be an abuse of discretion,” they wrote.

Carroll accuses Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. She initially sued the then-president for defamation when Trump told reporters: “She’s not my type.” The trial, however, is on a separate lawsuit for sexual battery that she filed after the passage of New York’s Adult Survivors Act, which temporarily suspended the statute of limitations that would have barred her case.

The “Ask E. Jean” columnist also filed a separate defamation count when Trump repeated his denial in a freewheeling post on his platform Truth Social.

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, who isn’t related to the judge, said that she will file her response in a letter to the court.

Read Tacopina’s letter here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."