Trump mistrial request denied in assault and defamation civil case

E Jean Carroll returns to witness box for another day of cross-examination

A courtroom sketch showing Donald Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina questioning E Jean Carroll before US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in New York. Reuters
Powered by automated translation

E Jean Carroll returned to the witness box in her rape and defamation civil case against Donald Trump on Monday, hours after the judge denied a defence request for a mistrial.

Mr Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina began cross-examining Ms Carroll for a second day, hoping to show jurors inconsistencies or holes in her claims against the former US president.

Ms Carroll, 79, has accused Mr Trump, 76, of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in late 1995 or early 1996, and then undermining her credibility and career by lying about it online.

Her defamation claim concerns an October 2022 post on Mr Trump's Truth Social platform, in which he called the former Elle magazine advice columnist's case a “complete con job” and “a hoax and a lie”.

The trial in Manhattan federal court began on April 25 and is in its fourth day.

In seeking a mistrial, Mr Tacopina wrote an 18-page letter accusing US District Judge Lewis Kaplan of bias against Mr Trump.

He said the effect of several “unfair and prejudicial” rulings by Mr Kaplan “manifests a deeper leaning towards one party over another”, including comments in which the judge “openly expresses favouritism”.

Mr Tacopina said Mr Kaplan, an appointee of Democratic president Bill Clinton, should have let him question Ms Carroll about why she did not seek security camera footage of the alleged rape.

Requests for mistrials are often long shots, though they often form a basis for eventual appeals.

A businessman-turned-politician, Mr Trump has not attended Ms Carroll's trial and on Monday was in Scotland for a short trip to visit his golf courses there.

Because the case is a civil one, Ms Carroll must establish her claims by a preponderance of the evidence — meaning there was more likelihood than not that the incident occurred — and does not need to meet the tougher criminal standard of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

Mr Trump's lawyers have not said publicly whether he plans to give evidence in the case. They have identified only one other possible defence witness, psychiatrist Edgar Nace.

Several women have accused Mr Trump of sexual misconduct. He has denied their allegations.

Reuters contributed to this report

Updated: May 01, 2023, 7:24 PM