Donald Trump could take the stand at his defamation trial brought by writer E Jean Carroll after her attorney revealed that the 2005 Access Hollywood tape and two witnesses accusing the former president of abuse will not be a part of the trial.
Ms Carroll, 80, made the claim in a 2019 memoir during Mr Trump’s presidency and argues the then-president defamed her then and on several subsequent occasions by saying that she lied about the incident, in addition to a range of other insults.
Roberta Kaplan, the attorney representing Ms Carroll, said on Saturday that the 2005 Access Hollywood tape, revealed during the 2016 campaign showing Mr Trump bragging about sexually abusing women as well as two possible witnesses who have accused Mr Trump of abuse, will not be part of the Manhattan proceedings.
This means that Mr Trump, the heavy favourite in the GOP presidential race that continues on Tuesday with the New Hampshire primary, could take the stand in the trial as soon as Monday 22 January.
The jury has been tasked with deciding if Mr Trump owes Ms Carroll more than the $5m she was awarded in the first defamation trial, which concluded last spring. That jury found Mr Trump liable for sexual abuse but not rape. The defamation claim handled in that trial was about a statement Mr Trump made in October 2022, after he left the White House.
In a letter to the judge on Saturday, Ms Kaplan said she was not going to show the jury the 2005 Access Hollywood tape to keep the trial more focused, adding that she would not call Trump accusers Natasha Stoynoff and Jessica Leeds – both of whom testified in the previous trial.
Ms Leeds has accused Mr Trump of groping her on a flight in the 1970s while Ms Stoynoff, a magazine writer, said Mr Trump forced himself on her and kissed her during an interview at Mar-a-Lago in the mid-2000s.
Ms Kaplan wrote in her Saturday letter that the Carroll legal team intends to include as evidence Mr Trump’s statements made during his campaign events from the past week as well as from his press conferences following his court appearances, in an attempt to impress upon the jury that Mr Trump’s defamatory statements has continued during the ongoing trial.
“As Your Honor is aware, we previously expressed our concern that Defendant would use his testimony in this case to turn the trial into a campaign event, violating court orders about the scope of this trial or admissible evidence in service of a political agenda,” Ms Kaplan wrote.
Mr Trump was repeatedly criticised by the judge in his civil fraud trial brought by the New York attorney general for doing exactly that, using his time on the stand to veer off subject, railing against the judge and others.
“Our concern in that regard has only increased since [the] trial began,” Ms Kaplan added. “Defendant has made repeated comments about trial evidence within earshot of the jury ... he has sought to develop the public narrative that the Court is not ‘allowing [Defendant] to properly defend [himself] from false accusations’ ... and he has stated on the record that he ‘would love’ if Your Honor excluded him from the trial for disregarding court orders or engaging in disruptive behavior.”
The judge has told the jury that it has to accept the judgement of the previous jury, meaning that the evidence in the trial has focused on the harm Mr Trump’s claims that she’s lying have done to Ms Carroll.
Ms Kaplan noted in her letter that Mr Trump appears willing to continue to reiterate his claims that he didn’t abuse Ms Carroll.
“Such statements are of course relevant to the issue of punitive damages, as they illustrate that Defendant has no intention of ceasing his defamation campaign against Ms Carroll, even in the face of judicial proceedings in which his liability for defaming her is settled,” Ms Kaplan wrote.