E. Jean Carroll will be back on the witness stand Thursday to testify in her damages trial as part of her defamation case against Donald Trump, but the former president won’t be in attendance this time.
“I am here because Donald Trump assaulted me, and when I wrote about it he lied and he shattered my reputation,” Carroll, 80, told the jury Wednesday.
Some of her testimony clearly angered Trump, who would complain animatedly to his lawyer in front of the jury. “Mr. Trump, I hope I don’t have to consider excluding you from the trial. I understand you are very eager for me to do that,” U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan told him outside the presence of the jury.
“I would love it. I would love it,” Trump responded.
“I know you would, because you just can’t control yourself in this circumstance,” Kaplan said.
The civil case is Carroll’s second against Trump to go to trial. A jury last year found Trump, 77, liable for sexually abusing Carroll in a Manhattan department store in 1996 and for defaming her by calling her claims a “hoax” after he left the White House. It awarded Carroll $5 million, a verdict Trump is appealing.
The current case focuses on similar comments Trump made about Carroll in 2019, when he was still president and she first went public with her accusation. It also seeks to hold him to account for comments he made about her after the trial and as recently as this week.
Trump was not required to attend either trial. He did not go to the first one, which Kaplan also presided over, after initially having said he intended to testify. Trump attended the first two days of the current trial, which started the day after his win in the Iowa caucuses, and has said he will take the stand in his own defense.
Habba had asked the judge in a court filing Friday to delay the trial for a week to allow Trump to go to the funeral for Knavs, the mother of his wife, Melania. Habba said Trump had been planning to go to Florida with his family Wednesday ahead of the service.
Kaplan, who had rejected several other attempts by Trump to delay the trial, denied the request.
“On January 12, 2024, three days after the announcement of the death of Mrs. Trump’s mother and the day before the defendant’s request, his counsel informed the Court by email that Mr. Trump would attend the trial,” Kaplan wrote in a ruling over the weekend, noting that the “trial date in this case was set seven months ago.”
“A postponement would disrupt and inconvenience prospective jurors, counsel, court staff, and security arrangements and likely cause other logistical and scheduling problems,” he said, adding that the “defendant is free to attend the funeral, the trial or both” but that he would not postpone the proceedings. He said that if the trial wrapped Thursday, he would allow Trump to take the witness stand Monday. The court is not in session Friday.
Kaplan also noted that Trump had a campaign rally in New Hampshire on Wednesday night, when his attorney said he would be in Florida.
Habba called the ruling “completely unfair” in court Tuesday. “We are asking, again, your honor, for a brief one-day adjournment so my client can be here,” she said.
“That is the first time you’ve done that,” Kaplan responded. “You asked me for a week’s adjournment. I denied it.”
Habba made the request again Wednesday.
“I am asking your honor to have the kindness that my client deserves to be with his family tomorrow and not have to choose to miss a trial that he has a right to be here for. There is a jury watching. It is prejudicial,” she said.
Kaplan again shot her down. “The right that he has, according to the Supreme Court of the United States, is the right to be present either in person or by counsel, and nothing is stopping him from doing either. The application is denied,” he said.