By Kara Scannell
Former President Donald Trump is scheduled to be deposed in the defamation lawsuit brought by a former magazine columnist on October 19.
The timing was revealed in a new court filing Friday as lawyers for Trump and E. Jean Carroll spar over whether the depositions should proceed after a federal appeals court ruling earlier this week.
Carroll’s attorneys suggested they may also seek to question Jared Kushner, Trump’s former son-in-law, after Trump said Kushner was one of only a handful of people who he had spoken with about the allegations.
On Wednesday, Trump’s attorney asked the district court judge to halt document production and deposition testimony as they await a final decision on the outcome of the lawsuit, initially filed in 2019.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said in a response letter Friday that the depositions should continue because the case has been in limbo for months while they’ve awaited the appeals court decision.
Kaplan said Trump has slow-walked his obligations, which is what prompted her to reverse a decision to not seek his deposition. Trump, she wrote, “violated every deadline that applied to his discovery responses without any credible excuse for his failure.”
“For example, Defendant identified his son-in-law Jared Kushner as one of only six people with whom Defendant has purportedly ever spoken about Plaintiff or this action. We have requested the address and employer of Mr. Kushner and the other five witnesses … on six occasions since August 23. Defendant’s counsel have repeatedly dodged our request, writing recently that they ‘have reached out to the appropriate parties and are still working to obtain this information.'”
Kaplan suggested that Trump also wanted to stop his deposition from being taken to avoid giving testimony since Carroll notified the judge and Trump last week that she intends to sue Trump in November under a new New York state law that allows victims of sexual assault to sue years after the encounter.
“The underlying dispute in both cases encompasses a single core disagreement — did Defendant sexually assault Plaintiff — and Defendant will have to testify under oath about his actions either way,” Kaplan wrote.
Carroll sued Trump for defamation in 2019 after he denied raping her in the mid-1990s and said that she wasn’t his type and accused her of fabricating the claim to boost sales of her book.
Trump and the Justice Department argued Trump was a federal employee and his statements denying Carroll’s allegations were made in response to reporters’ questions while he was at the White House. They argued the Justice Department should be substituted as the defendant, which, because the government cannot be sued for defamation, would end the lawsuit. A federal judge denied their request and Trump appealed.
Earlier this week, a federal appeals court said Trump was a federal employee when he denied Carroll’s claim of rape and sexual assault. However, the federal appeals court in New York asked the DC appeals court to determine if Trump was acting in the scope of that employment when he made the allegedly defamatory statements. If the DC court finds that Trump was acting within his role and is covered as a federal employee, then the Justice Department would likely be substituted as a defendant.
Kaplan also said Trump is trying to have it both ways, arguing in this lawsuit that he was a federal employee, but arguing in court filings relating to the search for presidential records at Mar-a-lago that Trump couldn’t face criminal liability for taking documents because he is not an employee of the US government.
“To hear Defendant tell it, he acted as an employee of the government in retaliating against Plaintiff for revealing that he had raped her decades earlier, and in declaring that she was too ugly to rape, but he could not possibly have been an employee of the government when he absconded from the White House with national security secrets,” Kaplan wrote.
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