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No deposition delay for Trump in suit with rape accuser

The former president is set to be deposed next week by attorneys for journalist E. Jean Carroll, who says Donald Trump raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the mid-1990s.

MANHATTAN (CN) — A federal judge refused Wednesday to pause discovery in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against Donald Trump while the former president awaits appellate court input on a question of liability.

“A previous motion by the United States to substitute itself for Mr. Trump was denied, so this is a second bite at that apple,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan noted in the 16-page opinion.

Trump’s attorneys asked Kaplan for a stay of proceedings in the case after the Second Circuit ruled 2-1 last month that a U.S. president is indeed a government employee as defined by the 1988 Westfall Act, which falls under the Federal Tort Claims Act. This decision did not, however, end the litigation. Trump now must wait on a ruling from the D.C. Court of Appeals about whether the comments he made about Carroll — specifically, that he couldn't have raped her because "she's not my type" — were defamatory.

“We look forward to establishing on the record that this case is, and always has been, entirely without merit," Trump’s personal defense attorney Alina Habba wrote in response to Judge Kaplan’s ruling on Wednesday.

Trump is scheduled to be deposed on Oct. 19, while E. Jean Carroll is set to sit for questioning by Trump's attorneys this Friday, Oct. 14.

“This case began on November 4, 2019, and it could hardly be clearer that defendant hopes to ‘run out the clock’ until he is elected president again,” Carroll’s attorney Robert Kaplan wrote last month in opposition to Trump’s request for a stay. “Defendant’s motion to stay represents more of the same delay tactics he has long used…and reflects his broader pattern of contorting the law and facts to avoid any legal repercussions for his misconduct. It also reflects his continued bad faith.”

Carroll’s lawsuit seeks civil damages for defamation, saying Trump stained her reputation by denying that he sexually assaulted her some 25 years earlier inside a dressing room at the department store Bergdorf Goodman.

Her attorneys have requested that Trump provide a DNA sample to see whether his genetic material is on the dress Carroll said that she wore during the incident.  

In addition to the defamation lawsuit, Carroll plans to file a claim against Trump under the Adult Survivor's Act, as soon as the law goes into effect on November 24. The two suits overlap enough that Carroll’s team wants them to be taken together when the already pending lawsuit goes to trial next year.

While waiting on Wednesday's ruling on their motion to halt discovery, Trump’s lawyers unsuccessfully urged Judge Kaplan not to consider the imminent new claim for damages. 

“Staying discovery in this case on the ground that it might be of use in a future litigation would make no sense,” the Clinton-appointed Kaplan concluded.

“The question whether Mr. Trump raped Ms. Carroll is the paramount issue in both cases,” Kaplan added. “And it is beside the point because discovery here would not ‘develop’ evidence for a ‘new claim,’ even if the anticipated suit for damages for the alleged rape properly were so characterized, because the discovery that would occur here would go directly to the claim in this case.”

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