President Donald Trump’s “desperation” to evade the judicial system “is a sign of weakness and fear,” said a lawyer for writer E. Jean Carroll on Friday to the judge presiding over their rape defamation lawsuit against Trump.
Carroll’s attorney Joshua Matz released the criticism when he urged Manhattan federal judge Lewis Kaplan to dismiss Trump’s recent efforts to halt the case pending appeal.
Last month, the Department of Justice asked the Court of Appeals of the 2nd Federal Court to reverse Kaplan’s decision prohibiting the department from bringing the US government into the case.
The offer to drop the case came from Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz Thursday evening after the Trump team knew a conference was planned with the judge and Carroll’s attorneys to discuss next steps in the case.
Trump’s attorneys say the appeal should automatically suspend the civil case in which Carroll says Trump defamed her by claiming she lied and was motivated by money when she said he got her in the 1990s raped a dressing room of a department store.
But Matz countered in a conference call with the judge on Friday morning that the move to Trump’s legal team was just the last in a long line of cynical delaying tactics.
“Mr. Trump seems desperate to circumvent the justice system,” Matz said. “This despair is a sign of weakness and fear.”
“In fact, Mr. Trump is so desperate here that his attorney has adopted the kind of gambling art that gives the rest of us lawyers a bad name,” Matz said, arguing that the stall tactics Kaplan’s decision to approve Trump’s motion should burden.
Matz noted that in addition to a number of efforts to delay the trial in this case, the Justice Department had waited months to replace Trump as a defendant. In addition, the lawyers of the DOJ refused to make oral statements about this offer at a court hearing, said Matz.
Carroll himself had previously tapped the delays and posted on Twitter last month: “The longer @realDonaldTrump delays, the harder it will fall.”
Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist and biographer of Hunter S. Thompson, sued Trump in a Manhattan state court in November 2019 for his testimony.
This case was heard in a state court where a judge made decisions that formed the basis for Trump’s removal and a DNA sample being submitted to be tested against a dress that Carroll was supposed to wear the day he was allegedly removed had raped her.
The Justice Department abruptly brought the case to a federal court in Manhattan in September, where it argued that the government, not Trump, should be the defendant in the case because he was acting in his role as a government official or employee when he made the statements.
Kaplan ruled in October that Trump must remain the accused and turned down the DOJ’s offer to replace himself in Carroll’s case.
“The President of the United States is not an employee of the government for the purposes of the law,” Kaplan wrote in a 59-page judgment published in Manhattan District Court on October 27.
“Even if he were such an employee, President Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements about Ms. Carroll would not have fallen within the scope of his appointment,” wrote Kaplan.
The Justice Department appealed the ruling in November.
But the DOJ didn’t appear on the conference call with Kaplan on Friday – an absence that seemed to surprise the judge.
“Is there an attorney for the Justice Department on this call?” Kaplan asked after asking the agency to set out their arguments, only to be faced with an awkward silence.
A lawyer told the judge that the Justice Department appeared to be respecting his decision that his lawyers should no longer be involved in the case.
Kaplan granted Matz’s request to file a legal pleading against efforts to delay the case, to which Trump’s lawyers are allowed to respond.
Trump has used a delay strategy in other legal cases in the past.
The president has been battling the Manhattan Attorney’s Office for more than a year to get his tax records from an accounting firm as part of a criminal investigation into his company. Trump is currently calling on the Supreme Court, which has already ruled against him once on this case, to block the prosecutor’s subpoena on new arguments that the lower federal courts have already dismissed.
The Trump Organization and Eric Trump recently tried to delay the New York attorney general’s dismissal of the president’s son in a civil investigation into how the company reported the values of certain real estate assets.
Eric Trump asked a judge to postpone the questioning until after the presidential election, but the request was denied. He was deposed in October.