Trump testimony in doubt as E Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit postponed

The trial will be postponed for at least a day, but Trump’s lawyers have asked for it to resume on Wednesday, after the New Hampshire Republican primary.

Former US President Donald Trump leaves his apartment building in New York City in the United States [Seth Wenig/AP]

Writer E Jean Carroll’s civil defamation case against former US President Donald Trump, who was expected to testify, has been postponed after one of the jurors was sent home sick.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan said on Monday that one of the nine jurors reported feeling “nauseous and hot” and so was sent home.

Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, also reported that at least one of her parents has COVID-19, and she exhibited symptoms of a fever in the last two days after having dinner with them several days ago.

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

After Kaplan announced that the trial would be postponed for at least a day, Habba asked the judge if Trump’s testimony could be delayed until Wednesday due to the New Hampshire Republican primary on Tuesday.

Kaplan did not immediately rule on a decision on the timing of Trump’s testimony.

Last week, Trump sat at the defence table as writer E Jean Carroll testified that he had defamed her after she accused him of rape in the 1990s.

E. Jean Carroll
E Jean Carroll steps out of the car as she arrives at Manhattan Federal Court, in New York City, the US [Shannon Stapleton/Reuters]

The jurors are sitting to determine how much Trump should pay Carroll in damages for defaming her in June 2019 after he denied sexually assaulting her.

Trump has consistently denied the allegations and last week complained to his lawyers about a “witch hunt” and a “con job” loudly enough that the judge threatened to remove him from the courtroom if he continued.

But he held a press conference afterwards and told reporters, “It’s a disgrace, frankly, what’s happening”, and repeated that it was “a made-up, fabricated story”.

Carroll’s lawyers have asked Kaplan to make Trump swear, before any testimony, that he understands and accepts the court’s restrictions on what he can say.

“There are any number of reasons why Mr. Trump might perceive a personal or political benefit from intentionally turning this trial into a circus,” attorney Roberta Kaplan wrote in a letter to the judge, who is unrelated.

Trump has been juggling court and campaign appearances and using both to argue that he is being persecuted by Democrats who fear his return to office.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies