Trump counterclaim against E. Jean Carroll dismissed, DA can get deposition

E. Jean Carroll exits the Manhattan Federal Court following the verdict in the civil rape accusation case against former U.S. President Donald Trump, New York City, May 9, 2023.

Brendan McDermid | Reuters

A federal judge on Monday dismissed a defamation counterclaim by Donald Trump against the writer E. Jean Carroll in her pending lawsuit that accuses him of defaming her after she wrote that he had raped her.

Trump had said in the counterclaim that Carroll made false statements, which badly harmed his reputation, on the heels of May’s civil jury verdict in her favor for $5 million in a related lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Judge Lewis Kaplan in dismissing the counterclaim wrote that Carroll’s statements were “substantially true.”

Kaplan in a separate order made public Monday ruled that Carroll’s lawyers can give the Manhattan District Attorney’s office a videotape and transcript of their deposition of Trump that they took last fall for the lawsuit.

That order raises the chance that Trump’s sworn testimony in Carroll’s case could be used against the former president as part of the DA’s pending criminal prosecution.

DA Alvin Bragg Jr. charged Trump, 77, earlier this year with falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment to porn star Stormy Daniels. That case, in which Trump has pleaded not guilty, is set to go to trial next May.

Bragg’s office this May issued a subpoena for the videotape and transcript of the deposition Trump gave in Carroll’s civil case last fall.

Trump’s lawyers then asked a New York state court judge to block the subpoena.

The judge last month ruled that Kaplan, who is overseeing Carroll’s case, should decide whether a protective order covering the deposition precluded it from being given to the DA’s office by her lawyers.

Kaplan, in his order made public Monday, said Carroll’s lawyers could comply with the subpoena.

Although Trump’s lawyers had argued in the state court action that the deposition was covered by the protective order, they did not renew that argument to Kaplan.

Carroll’s lawyers declined to comment Monday.

Trump’s lawyer and a spokeswoman for Bragg’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The deposition Trump gave features an exchange he had with Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who asked him about the infamous “Access Hollywood” comment made years earlier. In those comments, Trump bragged about sexually groping women without asking for their consent and getting away with it because of he was a “star.”

“Well, historically, that’s true with stars,” Trump answered.

Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to Judge Kaplan, then asked him if was “true with stars that they can grab women” by their genitals.

“Well, that’s what — if you look over the last million years, I guess that’s been largely true. Not always, but largely true. Unfortunately, or fortunately,” Trump replied.

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Carroll’s lawyer then asked him if he considered himself to be a “star.”

“I think you can say that, yeah,” he answered.

Carroll, 79, sued Trump in 2019, claiming the then-president defamed her in comments he made earlier that year denying allegations she first made in a New York magazine article that he raped her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store after a chance encounter in the mid-1990s.

Trial in that suit, which involves only a defamation claim, is scheduled to begin in January.

Carroll separately sued Trump in late 2022 in Manhattan federal court. That action made the civil claim of rape — based on her account of the alleged attack in the 1990s — along with defamation, which stemmed from disparaging comments Trump made about her in 2022.

Carroll’s allegation of rape was allowed under a new state law that opened a one-year window permitting accusers in sexual abuse cases to file civil claims that otherwise would be barred by the statute of limitations.

That second case went to trial this spring.

In May, a jury found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and defaming her. The jury ordered Trump to pay Carroll $5 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

Trump is appealing that verdict.

In July, Judge Kaplan rejected a request by Trump to sharply reduce the jury award against him.

“The jury in this case did not reach ‘a seriously erroneous result,'” Kaplan wrote in an order that quoted Trump’s arguments.

“Its verdict is not ‘a miscarriage of justice,’ ” the judge wrote.

Earlier in July, the U.S. Department of Justice dropped a nearly three-year effort to shield Trump from civil liability from Carroll’s first lawsuit, which relates to comments he made about her while president.

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