NEW YORK (AP) — A lawyer for ex-President Donald Trump said Tuesday that her client is “ready and eager” to sit for a deposition in the defamation case of a woman who says he raped her in the 1990s, but she’s nevertheless asking that it be postponed.
Attorney Alina Habba wrote to a Manhattan federal judge to ask that the Oct. 19 deposition of Trump in the case brought by columnist E. Jean Carroll be delayed because the appeals process hasn’t been completed to decide whether Trump will remain the defendant or be replaced by the United States.
The Justice Department says the United States should be the defendant because Trump’s comments occurred while he was president. If the substitution occurs, the case would be moot since the U.S. government is immune from defamation lawsuits.
Carroll sued Trump in 2019, saying he raped her in the mid-1990s in an upscale Manhattan department store’s dressing room and then defamed her in public comments after she released a book during his presidency in which she described her chance encounter with him.
Her defamation lawsuit was slowed by a pre-trial appeal in which the Justice Department asserted that Trump was protected from liability because his comments fell within his duties as president.
A lower court judge disagreed, but a federal appeals court negated that ruling and asked the highest court in the District of Columbia to decide whether Trump’s statements were job-related.
In her letter, Habba said numerous depositions are scheduled between Tuesday and Oct. 19. Habba has asked a judge to suspend proceedings until the appeal is finished. An electronic conference to discuss the issue is set for Friday.
Habba wrote that while Trump “remains ready and eager to sit for his deposition, we believe that it would be a waste of the parties’ time and resources to engage in such intensive discovery proceedings while a motion to stay is pending and a dispositive issue is yet to be resolved.”
In a letter opposing Habba’s request, attorney Roberta Kaplan wrote Friday that Trump “should not be permitted to assert at the last minute that he is entitled to avoid a deposition.”
Kaplan noted the case was three years old and said Trump hopes to run out the clock “until he is elected president again.”
She compared his defamation lawsuit comments in which he said Carroll was “not my type” to his response to an investigation into classified documents found in a raid of his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
“To hear Defendant tell it, he acted as an employee of the government in retaliating against Plaintiff for revealing that he had raped her decades earlier, and in declaring that she was too ugly to rape, but he could not possibly have been an employee of the government when he absconded from the White House with national security secrets,” the lawyer said.
Habba responded to Kaplan by saying meritless arguments led her to offer “gratuitous … arguments that are not only inflammatory and inaccurate but, more importantly, wholly unrelated to the issue at hand.”