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Trump has ‘no justification’ to delay E. Jean Carroll’s civil rape trial — and next month could be worse for him, judge says

E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump

E. Jean Carroll and Donald Trump (Photo on left courtesy of E. Jean Carroll; photo on right via Emily Elconin/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump has “no justification” for a “cooling off” period between his indictment and E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit accusing him of rape, a federal judge ruled.

In the ruling, Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan noted that Trump “invited or provoked” some of the media coverage of his hush-money prosecution that he now cites as a reason for an adjournment. The judge added that the next month could shape up worse for the former president.

“Events happen during postponements,” Kaplan remarked. “Sometimes they can make matters worse.”

After that line, the judge included a lengthy footnote rattling off Trump’s possible criminal and civil exposure. Listing the criminal investigations, Kaplan cited Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis’s investigation into Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election results in Georgia and Justice Department special counsel Jack Smith’s investigations into Trump’s handling of classified information and role in the events of Jan. 6, 2021.

On the civil side, Trump faces a $250 million civil fraud lawsuit by New York Attorney General Letitia James that could bar him and three of his adult children from ever serving as a director in an Empire State corporation.

“Developments in at least one of these matters, as well as actions and statements by Mr. Trump in relation to any, may well give rise to intense publicity that, in some respects, Mr. Trump might claim to be prejudicial in this case,” the judge’s footnote reads. “Mr. Trump’s suggestion that a one-month trial postponement in this case would ensure the absence of any such developments in the period immediately preceding jury selection is not realistic.”

Carroll alleges that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s.

Trump’s legal team argued that Carroll’s lawsuit and his criminal hush-money case, at their their “heart,” amounted to accusations of sexual misconduct, but the judge scoffed at that analogy.

“The ‘heart of this litigation’ is whether Mr. Trump did or did not rape or sexually assault Ms. Carroll in a dressing room at a New York department store,” Kaplan wrote. “The apparent ‘heart’ of the New York State indictment is whether Mr. Trump falsified business records to cover up an alleged payment of ‘hush money’ to ‘Woman 2’ (presumably an adult movie performer, Stormy Daniels), to induce Woman 2 to keep quiet about an apparently consensual and adulterous sexual relationship she claims to have had with Mr. Trump and that Mr. Trump denies. To be sure, at a certain level of generality, both cases do indeed have something to do with ‘sex.’ But the ‘something’ that each has to do with it is dramatically different.”

In the past, Judge Kaplan has skewered what he has described as Trump’s delay tactics. He reiterated that concern in his ruling.

“It is difficult also to ignore the possibility that this latest eve-of-trial request for a postponement is a delay tactic by Mr. Trump, a concern the Court has discussed in previous rulings,” the ruling states. “It now has been more than three years since Ms. Carroll filed her first lawsuit against Mr. Trump alleging that he raped her in the mid 1990s. She now is over 79 years of age and is entitled to her day in court just as both parties are entitled to a fair trial.”

The trial in her lawsuit is scheduled for April 25.

Read the ruling 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."