Judge Denies Trump’s Request to Suspend Defamation Trial, Funeral Attendance in Jeopardy

NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s request to suspend a defamation trial so he could attend his mother-in-law’s funeral has been denied by a judge. The trial, stemming from columnist E. Jean Carroll’s claims that Trump sexually abused her in the 1990s, is set to begin with jury selection. Despite a combative exchange between Trump’s lawyers and Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, the judge ruled against the suspension and stated that Trump could testify on Monday. The trial marks the penalty phase of the civil defamation case, with Carroll having been awarded $5 million in a previous trial.

Trump’s attorney, Michael Madaio, argued that the judge’s previous rulings had limited their ability to defend the case and called for the trial to be postponed due to Trump’s pending appeal. Another attorney for Trump, Alina Habba, requested a suspension of the trial on Thursday for the funeral of former first lady Melania Trump’s mother. However, the judge only granted the accommodation of allowing Trump to testify on Monday if the trial is otherwise finished by Thursday.

Trump arrived for the trial in a motorcade, entering the building through a special entrance. Opening arguments are expected to take place in the afternoon, marking the second penalty phase in Carroll’s legal fight. In the previous trial, a jury awarded Carroll $5 million, concluding that Trump sexually abused her but did not establish rape. Trump is currently appealing the verdict and has not yet paid the award.

The focus of the current trial will be to determine how much Trump owes for his comments about Carroll while he was president. Judge Kaplan ruled that the new jury does not need to reconsider the accusations or Trump’s defamatory remarks, as those were resolved in the previous trial. The trial is expected to last several days, with Carroll seeking $10 million in compensatory damages and additional punitive damages.

Despite his legal battles, Trump remains a frontrunner in the 2024 Republican presidential primary polls. He has stated his intention to actively fight both civil and criminal cases, viewing them as part of his campaign. The judge has placed strict limits on what Trump can discuss during the trial, prohibiting any statements he made on the campaign trail or elsewhere that may undermine the court’s ruling on his alleged lies about sexually assaulting Carroll.

The trial proceeds without any mention of AP News or any other news organization. Its outcome will shape the financial repercussions for Trump’s previous statements about Carroll, adding another chapter to the ongoing legal challenges the former president faces.