The federal judge overseeing Donald Trump’s sexual assault case ruled in his favor, but there was a catch.
As reported by the New York Post, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that the former president does not have to attend the trial set tp begin Tuesday, April 25. However, he added to that ruling that if Trump chooses not to attend in person, he cannot claim he’s doing so as to not place any “burdens” on the city.
Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, petitioned the judge on his client’s behalf, asking that the jurors be informed that Trump was not physically present at the trial due to his desire to not cause “logistical burdens,” which his trial would surely impose on the city and the courthouse located in Manhattan.
In a proposal submitted to the judge a day earlier, Tacopina requested that jurors learn: “While no litigant is required to appear at a civil trial, the absence of the defendant in this matter, by design, avoids the logistical burdens that his presence, as the former president, would cause the courthouse and New York City.”
“Accordingly, his presence is excused unless and until he is called by either party to testify,” the request noted further.
Although Judge Kapalan, a Clinton appointee, granted Trump the benefit of not having to be physically present at trial, he refused to allow his absence to be excused by the jury as an action in good faith to the city.
“Mr. Trump is free to attend, to testify, or both. He is free also to do none of those things,” Kaplan wrote in the one-page order.
“In the meantime, there shall be no reference by counsel for Mr. Trump in the presence of the jury panel or the trial jury to Mr. Trump’s alleged desire to testify or to the burdens that any absence on his part allegedly might spare, or might have spared, the Court or the City of New York,” his order noted further.
According to The Post, Trump is facing trial in Manhattan federal court over allegations he raped advice columnist E. Jean Carroll in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room during the 1990s.
Carroll has also accused Trump of defamation from when he made public statements about the allegations, which appeared in a New York Magazine excerpt in 2019.
According to Trump, the allegations are false.
Earlier this week, Trump’s attorneys requested a postponement of the defamation and battery trial, citing media coverage of his indictment last month brought by DA Alvin Bragg, needed time to cool off.
Judge Kaplan, who was appointed in 1994, denied Trump’s request for a one-month delay of the trial, stating, “There is no justification for an adjournment. This case is entirely unrelated to the state prosecution.”
“Developments in at least one of these matters, as well as actions and statements by Mr. Trump in relation to any, may well give rise to intense publicity that, in some respects, Mr. Trump might claim to be prejudicial in this case,” Kaplan noted. “Mr. Trump’s suggestion that a one-month trial postponement, in this case, would ensure the absence of any such developments in the period immediately preceding jury selection is not realistic.”
Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn founder and Democratic mega-donor, was revealed to be secretly funding Carroll’s lawsuit.
In a heated exchange between Carroll through her representation and Trump’s, who were arguing about postponing the trial, the latest revelations on Carroll’s alleged key funding for the case were revealed.
It has yet to be determined if Hoffman’s financial support has a significant impact on the case’s outcome, if any, but Trump’s continuing claims that wealthy Democrats are conspiring to undermine him will likely be strengthened by the disclosure of the previously undisclosed funding.
Hoffman is one of the most prominent Silicon Valley entrepreneurs. Additionally, he is one of the most significant Democratic donors who is presumed to be determined to weaken Trump’s hold over the Republican Party. Vox reported that Hoffman’s opposition to Trump’s policies has affected his friendship with PayPal founder Peter Thiel, who has taken on the role of funding conservative causes and candidates.
Carroll filed a new lawsuit seeking a trial after the New York Legislature passed a new rape survivor law, which extended the statute of limitations for civil lawsuits. It could result in monetary compensation for Carroll, but more importantly, it could label the powerful real estate magnate seeking a second presidential term as a rapist.