Donald Trump lost his second attempt to block a People magazine writer from testifying that he groped her, bolstering E. Jean Carroll’s allegations that the former president is a serial sexual abuser.
Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan found on Monday that Trump made his request far too late.
“The application is untimely because any motion for reconsideration should have been filed well before this request,” Kaplan wrote in his single-page ruling.
Later this week, the “Ask E. Jean” columnist will begin making her case to a jury that Trump raped her inside the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. Carroll’s case will rely in part on testimony from two other women who allege that Trump behaved in sexually inappropriate ways with them, too, roughly 25 years apart.
Like Carroll, one of those women, Natasha Stoynoff, is a professional scribe who claims that Trump unexpectedly cornered and groped her long before his presidency.
In 2005, Stoynoff says, she went to Mar-a-Lago to interview the then-real estate mogul and his wife Melania Trump for People magazine. She says Donald Trump offered to show her a painting hanging in one of the rooms and then shut the door.
“I turn around and he’s right here, and he grabs my shoulders and pushes me against this wall and starts kissing me,” Stoynoff testified.
Stoynoff said that she was in “complete shock” and pushed back at Trump, twice. She says she unpinned herself after a butler walked into the room. She kept silent on the alleged incident until a little more than a decade later when she went public in a People magazine feature: “Physically attacked by Donald Trump.” A federal judge initially allowed her to bolster Carroll’s testimony, finding that Stoynoff’s groping allegations could arguably have violated Florida law against sexual battery.
Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina argued that depends on details that Stoynoff hasn’t yet disclosed.
“Upon further reflection, we believe that there exists a true threshold issue of exactly what parts of Ms. Stoynoff’s body Defendant actually touched or attempted to touch, according to her,” Tacopina wrote in a three-page letter on Saturday. “If Defendant, according to Ms. Stoynoff, only touched her shoulders and kissed her, and never touched or attempted to touch her genitals, then Your Honor’s conclusion that such evidence is not enough for her testimony to be allowed should be conclusive.”
The matter, argued Tacopina, amounted to whether Trump’s alleged conduct fell into the definition of sexual assault making it admissible testimony under rule 413(d), which governs whether Stoynoff could take the stand.
Tacopina wants to be able to question Stoynoff in a voir dire before her testimony on the answer to that question.
“If she testifies that he only touched her shoulders and attempted to kiss her, we would ask that Your Honor reconsider the prior March 10th ruling and not allow her to testify,” Tacopina added.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, who isn’t related to the judge, argued that the judge got it right the first time.
“Trump does not cite any controlling decision—or any decision at all—that would disturb the Court’s holding,” she wrote.
She noted that the Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump boasted about grabbing women “by the p—-,” was additional evidence that Stoynoff’s testimony is relevant. Before that infamous remark, Trump boasted to Billy Bush.
“You know I’m automatically attracted to beautiful—I just start kissing them,” Trump said on the tape. “It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.”
Judge Kaplan ruled before the trial, over Trump’s objections, that the tape is fair game to show the jury.
As the trial approaches, Trump has tried — and failed — in multiple attempts to overturn unfavorable pretrial rulings. The former president unsuccessfully tried to delay the trial date multiple times, and he fought repeatedly against the judge’s determination that the jury should be anonymous. Jury selection begins on Tuesday.
Read the ruling here.
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