Trump Loses Attempt To Hide Details In Jean Carroll Sex Assault Case

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A federal judge ordered on Monday that portions of a transcript of a deposition taken of former President Donald Trump after writer E. Jean Carroll sued him for defamation be made publicly available, seemingly taking the former president’s legal team by surprise and going against his apparent interests.

According to federal Judge Lewis Kaplan, who was handling the dispute, Carroll informed Trump via a letter dated December 19 that he was “obliged to file within three days a letter explaining the need to seal or redact the portions of the defendant’s deposition that was filed as part of an exhibit” accompanying a proposed case management plan. Kaplan said Trump “did not do so and has made no effort to justify the continued sealing of his deposition,” and accordingly, Kaplan ordered the release of those previously redacted portions. A letter dated the same day as Kaplan’s new order from a law firm representing Trump in this dispute makes no mention of what was apparently a notification provided from Carroll to Trump weeks prior, instead citing a court order dated the day after that earlier letter that was supposedly worded in confusing terms.

The letter from the Trump law firm contends they understood the burden of proof in any dispute over the deposition portions going under seal to be on Carroll — not Trump. The letter, which originated with a firm featuring infamous Trump lawyer Alina Habba among its partners, asked for a three-day window to file arguments opposing releasing the deposition portions, although it was unclear whether the judge would grant their request. The order for releasing the disputed transcript portions didn’t include a clause about suddenly putting implementing it on hold.

Carroll’s original defamation claims against the former president concern his antagonistic, initial response to her revealing an account of Trump sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. It’s unclear if there is much of any public information already available about what Trump actually said when put under questioning in Carroll’s case. He infamously invoked his constitutional rights against self-incrimination hundreds of times when questioned in another high-profile, personal deposition that was part of the civil investigation by New York state Attorney General Letitia James into his family business.

In the subsequent lawsuit from James alleging widespread financial misconduct, a New York judge recently denied motions to dismiss the case filed by Trump and his three most prominent adult children. That judge found that many, although not all, of the arguments with which he was confronted in those motions were largely restated from earlier pleadings, even including the familiar allegation James was acting out of personal and what could be deemed political prejudice. The judge noted he already formally rejected the argument past proceedings that led up to this case had such grounds nearly a full year ago.

Image: Gage Skidmore/ Creative Commons