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In Trump rape lawsuit, judge weighs ‘quid pro quo’ DNA offer

Leading up to the trial, set for April, the former president agreed — after years of refusal — to submit DNA to be compared with samples found on a dress that is central to the rape case against him.

MANHATTAN (CN) — Donald Trump said he would provide his DNA to the woman accusing him of raping her in the 1990s, but said she must first hand over 13 additional pages from a forensic report filed three years ago in a related case. 

E. Jean Carroll says the jacket dress she was wearing when Trump allegedly sexually assaulted her has hung in her closet in the intervening decades. The once-popular advice columnist conducted a DNA test on the garment in early 2020, filing the results in a defamation lawsuit brought in response to Trump’s denial of the accusation. 

“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type,” Trump said on June 24, 2019, half way into his single-term presidency. “Number two, it never happened. It never happened.”  

Carroll submitted a DNA report in February 2020 that appears to end on page 24 of 37, and Trump’s attorneys wrote in a letter Friday that they need those remaining pages to properly prepare for trial. 

“Mr. Trump is indeed willing to provide a DNA sample for the sole purpose of comparing it to the DNA found on the dress at issue, so long as the missing pages of the DNA report are promptly produced prior to our client producing his DNA,” states the 3-page letter penned by Trump’s attorney Joe Tacopina, of the firm Tacopina Seigel & DeOreo, who recently joined Trump's representation on the case. 

Cassandra Burke Robertson, a law professor at Case Western Reserve University, doubts that the approach will carry water with U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan. 

“Never say never, but I don’t see a legal basis for that argument,” Burke told Courthouse News. “There’s no quid pro quo in discovery. That is just not a legal concept that fits within the discovery paradigm.” 

Discovery matters center on whether the material being requested is relevant to the dispute and how burdensome it would be to produce. It’s within Judge Kaplan’s power to make the call ordering Carroll to produce the missing pages, or even delay the trial, but Robertson said she would be shocked if that happened here. “I’m not seeing it,” she said. 

Trump has refused to provide a DNA sample since Carroll filed her 2019 defamation lawsuit, which is currently tied up in a District of Columbia appeals court. However the new filing is in response to a second lawsuit directly accusing Trump of rape, which Carroll filed in late 2022 just minutes after a New York law went into effect allowing survivors of assault a one-year window to file time-barred claims against their abusers. 

Judge Kaplan has yet to decide whether to consolidate the two matters in the Southern District of New York. 

Carroll’s attorneys called Trump’s motion a “bad faith and legally frivolous delay tactic.” 

“Trump’s letter should be seen for exactly what it is: a transparent effort to manufacture a dispute over a document Trump has known about for more than three years, in order to delay these proceedings, put off the first day of trial at all costs, prejudice potential jurors, and ‘take back’ his own past strategic decisions in this litigation,” states the 5-page letter by Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan. 

The lab report in question includes an analysis of the Donna Karan dress and the Barney’s New York patent leather high heels that Carroll says she was wearing at the time of the alleged assault in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store. 

Carroll and Trump are both expected to testify at the trial and each has already been deposed. Trump’s witness list includes CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, who reportedly would be asked to comment on an interview in which Carroll discussed rape fantasies. 

Trial is set to begin in April. 

Categories:Law, Media, National, Politics, Trials

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