Juror illness postpones Trump Carroll defamation trial

Donald Trump has spent about four minutes on the witness stand in a defamation trial.

Donald Trump has spent about four minutes on the witness stand in a defamation trial. Photo: AAP

Donald Trump’s ability to testify in the writer E Jean Carroll’s latest civil defamation case is in doubt after the presiding judge postponed the trial because one juror and a parent of one of Trump’s lawyers became ill.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in federal court in Manhattan sent one of the nine jurors home to get a COVID-19 test after the juror reported feeling “hot and nauseous”.

Trump’s lawyer Alina Habba said she developed a fever after dining on Friday with her parents, at least one of whom has contracted COVID-19.

She and her co-counsel, Michael Madaio, tested negative for COVID-19 on Monday.

The trial concerns Trump’s June 2019 denials of Carroll’s claim that he raped the former Elle magazine advice columnist in the mid-1990s in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan.

A different jury last May ordered Trump to pay Carroll $US5 million ($7.6 million) over a similar October 2022 denial.

Kaplan has ruled that the first trial established that Trump defamed and sexually abused Carroll.

The only issue for jurors in the second trial is how much money Trump should pay Carroll, if any.

Carroll, 80, is seeking at least $US10 million.

Habba asked Kaplan to let Trump testify on Wednesday, so that he could be in New Hampshire on Tuesday for that state’s Republican presidential primary, where he has been leading in opinion polls.

The winner of the nomination is expected to face President Joe Biden, the likely Democratic nominee, in November.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, opposed Habba’s request, having nearly finished presenting her case.

“We think we should finish tomorrow,” Kaplan said.

The judge will decide later whether Trump can testify.

“Circumstances may result in your getting what you ask for, and maybe not,” he told Habba.

Trump, 77, has consistently denied wrongdoing, and accused Carroll of making up their encounter to boost sales of her then-new memoir.

In a post on his Truth Social website following Monday’s postponement, Trump maintained that he knows “absolutely nothing about” Carroll and that the case was “one of the many Crooked Joe Biden-inspired Witch Hunt trials”.

Trump has also pleaded not guilty in four criminal cases, including two claiming he tried illegally to overturn his 2020 loss to Biden.

Judge Kaplan separately denied Trump’s request for a mistrial, which arose from Carroll testifying that she destroyed emailed death threats after first accusing Trump of rape.

Trump did not attend Carroll’s first trial, and attended jury selection and the first full day of her second trial.

He is not required to testify, and Carroll’s lawyers have argued he might try to “sow chaos” if he did, perhaps believing that doing so would help him politically.

Last Wednesday, Judge Kaplan warned Trump he might be ejected for being disruptive in the courtroom, after a lawyer for Carroll said jurors might have overheard Trump loudly proclaim the trial a witch hunt and “con job”.

“I would love it,” Trump said.

“I know you would,” Kaplan replied.

Topics: Donald Trump
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