Federal Judge Allows Former President Donald Trump to Delay Testifying in Defamation Trial as He Faces Millions in Damages

NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump has been granted a week’s delay to testify at a New York defamation trial in which he faces the possibility of millions of dollars in damages. A federal judge made the ruling after a jury concluded that Trump had sexually abused a columnist in the 1990s. Judge Lewis A. Kaplan issued an order on Sunday stating that Trump could testify on January 22, even if the trial concludes by Thursday. The only exception would be if he were to testify as the Republican front-runner in this year’s presidential race.

Trump had initially requested a delay in the trial so that he could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral, but Judge Kaplan denied the request, citing the inconvenience it would cause to various parties involved. The judge also revealed that Trump had scheduled a campaign appearance in New Hampshire during the trial, further emphasizing his commitment to attending. The trial, set to begin on Tuesday, will focus on the damages sought by columnist E. Jean Carroll, with $10 million in compensatory damages and additional millions in punitive damages at stake.

Carroll, who was awarded a $5 million sex abuse and defamation judgment in May, previously accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in 1996. The jury in the previous trial dismissed the rape accusation but agreed that Trump had sexually abused her and defamed her with statements made in 2022. The current trial stems from defamatory remarks Trump made about Carroll in 2019 and May 2022, following the announcement of the previous jury’s verdict.

Judge Kaplan ruled that the new trial would solely focus on damages, as the prior jury’s findings on sexual abuse and defamation would be considered. Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, raised objections to the restrictions on her client’s testimony requested by Carroll’s attorney, arguing that Trump should be allowed to offer evidence related to whether his comments were made out of ill will. Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, expressed concerns that Trump may disregard the judge’s instructions and attempt to discredit her client.

The trial has been delayed multiple times due to appeals, but it is now poised to proceed. With Trump’s testimony potentially playing a significant role, the outcome of the trial could have significant financial implications. Whether or not Trump will be able to sway the jury in his favor remains to be seen.