NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s rape trial will begin next week as scheduled after a federal judge on Monday rejected his lawyer’s request for a one-month delay, saying the former president cannot make public statements to promote pretrial publicity and then claim it’s prejudicial to him and reason to delay a trial.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan said the civil trial on claims against Trump by a longtime columnist, E. Jean Carroll, will begin as scheduled on April 25. Trump denies the rape happened or that he ever knew Carroll.
Kaplan rejected arguments by Trump attorney Joe Tacopina that Trump’s recent indictment in New York state court on criminal falsification of business records charges had created such a wave of negative publicity that a one-month cooling off period was needed before the rape trial begins.
“There was, of course, a great deal of media coverage — some of it invited and, indeed, provoked by Mr. Trump — first of the apparently impending indictment, then the indictment itself, and finally the arraignment. But the connection that Mr. Trump seeks to draw between that coverage and either the need for or the effectiveness of a ‘cooling off’ period is unsupported by any evidence,” the judge said.
Kaplan said a portion of recent media coverage of Trump’s indictment was “of his own doing” as Trump made public statements on his social media platform, in press conferences and in interviews.
“It does not sit well for Mr. Trump to promote pretrial publicity and then to claim that coverage that he promoted was prejudicial to him and should be taken into account as supporting a further delay,” the judge said, adding that he was also concerned that the request was a “delay tactic by Mr. Trump.”
He noted that it wasn’t necessary to find jurors who had never heard of Trump’s legal woes as long as jurors agreed to be fair and impartial regardless of anything they’d heard.
“There is no justification for an adjournment. This case is entirely unrelated to the state prosecution,” Kaplan said, alluding to charges brought against Trump on the grounds that he played a role in hush money payments to two women who claimed affairs with him years before the 2016 presidential election. He has denied the affairs.
Tacopina declined comment on Monday about Kaplan’s ruling and about whether Trump will attend the rape trial. He is required to notify Kaplan by Thursday if Trump plans to show up at court.
In a footnote, the judge cited other legal threats Trump faces to show that a month-long delay in the trial stemming from Carroll’s lawsuit could make the climate to find a fair jury worse rather than better.
A Justice Department special counsel probe is looking into Trump’s possible mishandling of classified documents, along with matters relating to the 2020 presidential election and the Jan. 6, 2021 attack on the Capitol. Meanwhile, a district attorney in Fulton County, Georgia, is probing Trump’s actions after the 2020 election, and New York Attorney General Letitia James has sued Trump, his family and the Trump Organization for alleged financial wrongdoing.
Carroll first sued Trump for defamation after he said Carroll lied when she wrote in a 2019 memoir that he attacked her in the dressing room of an upscale Manhattan department store in early 1996. She brought a second lawsuit in November after New York state allowed victims to temporarily sue over sexual assaults that occurred long ago.