Trump Fails To Show After Vow To Confront Carroll In Court

Donald Trump was never going to show his face in court in the E. Jean Carroll defamation and assault trial, much less testify on the witness stand. The suggestion was always ridiculous. But ridiculous suggestions are kind of Trump’s bread and butter, so …

On a golf trip to break ground on a development in Doonbeg, Ireland, last week, Trump announced to reporters that he was cutting his trip short to return to America for the trial.

“I have to go back for a woman who’s made a false allegation about me. And I have a judge that’s extremely hostile,” he vamped. “And I’m going to go back and confront this woman.”

“It’s a disgrace, and it shouldn’t be allowed to happen in our country,” huffed the OG vexatious litigant, who has filed hundreds of lawsuits against parties such as the Pulitzer prize board (defamatory refusal to revoke a prize), the New York Attorney General (prosecuting him for financial crimes), and Twitter (tortious deplatforming). And lo, the sea did not rise up of its own accord and carry him off to the briny deep.

Back in America, his lawyer Joseph Tacopina was facing his own choppy waters as news of Trump’s promise to “confront this woman” reached Judge Lewis Kaplan’s New York courtroom.

The lawyer has consistently refused to admit that the former president would not be attending the trial, first seeking a jury instruction that his client was “excused” from attending as a courtesy to the security staff, and then going so far as to defy an order that he inform the court which days, if any, Trump intended to be present in the courtroom.

“We are not yet in a position to advise the Court in this regard,” Tacopina wrote last month. “However, we will inform the Court as soon as a decision is reached.”

So Trump’s vow to return to America could not have been welcome news to his lawyer, at the end of an apparently disastrous week in court.

“How recently have you spoken to your client?” Judge Kaplan demanded, alluding to “news reports out of the British Isles.”

“I wonder about the idea that we will be wondering of the possibility, all weekend, that he is going to come in and testify,” Carroll’s attorney Michael Ferrara asked, in comments reported in Law & Crime.

“Mike, I just told you he is not,” Tacopina responded, vowing to rest his case and appealing to Judge Kaplan to take his word as an officer of the court.

But the judge was not about to leave space for Trump to complain that he’d been deprived of the right to confront the witness.

“I am absolutely committed in this case, as in every case, to ensure, to the best of my ability, that every party has a full and fair opportunity to pursue or defend against a claim asserted by or against that party,” he said on the bench, giving Trump until 5 p.m. on Sunday to make a motion to testify. But 5 o’clock came and went with no such motion, and so the jury will hear closing arguments today without setting eyes once on the defendant save in deposition testimony where he mistook Carroll for his ex-wife, professed his lack of sexual interest in her lawyer, and agreed that powerful men have “fortunately or unfortunately” always felt entitled to sexually assault women. That last was a reference to the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, where Trump bragged about kissing women without their consent and grabbing their genitals, just as he’s alleged to have done here.

And yet, his lawyers made the calculation that having him appear on the witness stand in his own defense would be worse. Which was undoubtedly the right call.

Carroll v. Trump I [Docket via Court Listener]
Carroll v. Trump II [Docket via Court Listener]

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics and appears on the Opening Arguments podcast.


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