Trump may soon face deposition in E Jean Carroll rape defamation case

Oliver O’ConnellTue, 23 February 2021, 10:51 pm

E Jean Carroll speaks onstage during the How to Write Your Own Life panel at the 2019 Glamour Women Of The Year Summit  (Getty Images for Glamour)
E Jean Carroll speaks onstage during the How to Write Your Own Life panel at the 2019 Glamour Women Of The Year Summit (Getty Images for Glamour)

While there is much focus on the Supreme Court’s order for Donald Trump to release his tax returns to New York prosecutors, his post-presidential legal troubles are by no means limited to his finances.

He also faces the defamation case brought against him by writer E Jean Carroll relating to her accusation that he raped her in the fitting room of a New York department store in the mid-1990s.

Ms Carroll told Reuters that she is looking forward to being there if Mr Trump is deposed in the case.

“I am living for the moment to walk into that room to sit across the table from him,” Ms Carroll said in an interview. “I think of it every day.”

The case against the former president was filed in November 2019 after Mr Trump accused her of lying about the allegation to sell her book. He claimed the incident could not have happened as he claimed he had never met her and that, as he said: “She’s not my type.”

Ms Carroll, an author and former magazine columnist for Elle, is seeking unspecified damages and a retraction of his statements. Her legal team hopes that now Mr Trump is no longer president the case will move forward.

In September 2020, after several unsuccessful attempts by Mr Trump’s lawyers to get Ms Carroll’s case dismissed or delayed, US Justice Department officials under his administration took the unusual step of asking that the government be substituted for Mr Trump as the defendant in the case.

Justice Department lawyers argued that Mr Trump, like any typical government employee, is entitled under federal law to immunity from civil lawsuits when performing his job. They argued that he was acting in his capacity as president when he said Ms Carroll was lying.

Legal experts said it was unprecedented for the Justice Department to defend a president for conduct from before he took office. When Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejected that argument, the Justice Department appealed.

The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has yet to rule on the appeal.

It is also unknown whether Justice Department officials under President Joe Biden, who took office last month, will continue to defend the case on Trump’s behalf. The Independent has reached out to the Department of Justice for comment.

Mr Biden’s pick for attorney general, Merrick Garland, who will lead the department, is currently undergoing confirmation hearings in the Senate.

If the appeals court upholds Judge Kaplan’s decision, it would likely clear the way for Mr Trump to be deposed by Ms Carroll’s lawyers.

There is a similar defamation case against Mr Trump from Summer Zervos, a former contestant onThe Apprentice. Ms Zervos filed a motion with the New York Court of Appeals in early February asking for the case to resume now that he is no longer president.

In addition to the deposition, Ms Carroll’s legal team is also seeking a sample of DNA from Mr Trump as their client still has the dress she wore during the alleged attack at Manhattan’s Bergdorf Goodman department store, a block from Trump Tower.

Ms Carroll said she did not report Mr Trump to the police at the time, fearing reprisal from him, but she did tell two friends about what transpired. She also kept the dress in a closet.

More than two decades later in June 2019, inspired by the #MeToo movement, she shared her experience in a New York magazine article, adapted from her book What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.

Ms Carroll wore the dress in a photo shoot for the article. After filing the lawsuit the legal team sent it for forensic testing. No semen was found on the fabric, but a man’s DNA was found on the shoulders and sleeves.

If there is a DNA match it wouldn’t prove Mr Trump’s guilt, but could be used as evidence to disprove his claim that he did not know Ms Carroll.

More than two dozen women have publicly accused the former president of sexual misconduct prior to his time in office.

Mr Trump has called the allegations politically motivated.

Ms Carroll says that the defamation case is not about her, but for all of the women who cannot speak out.

With reporting from Reuters