Donald Trump lost his bid to delay writer E. Jean Carroll’s civil rape and defamation trial against him, set for April 25, in a ruling Monday that knocked down the former president's argument at every turn. If anything, the ruling served as a reminder of how much legal jeopardy Trump is in on several fronts.
It was Trump who initially invoked another one of his cases to try to delay this one. He cited his recent indictment and arraignment in New York state court in the Stormy Daniels hush money case, arguing that a one-month “cooling off” period was needed for potential jurors in the impending civil trial, due to intense media coverage of his criminal case.
Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York swiftly rejected that argument on Monday. Among other things, Kaplan observed that Trump’s situation could get even worse over time. He noted that the 2024 Republican presidential candidate “faces a number of criminal and civil investigations and litigation,” listing the Justice Department's special counsel investigations into Jan. 6, 2021, and classified documents at Mar-a-Lago, the Georgia election interference investigation, and New York Attorney General Letitia James’ civil fraud suit.
The judge also rejected Trump’s offensive comparison of the alleged facts of his pending criminal case to the alleged facts in Carroll's suit, in support of his "cooling off" request. Trump had tried to compare the allegation that he slept with Daniels (which he has denied) and the allegation that he raped Carroll (which he has denied) as both involving alleged sexual misconduct.
As Kaplan explained, there are multiple things wrong with Trump’s argument. First, the criminal case doesn’t actually turn on whether Trump had sex with Daniels, but rather whether he falsified business records in covering up the hush payment. And second, the hush money was paid to Daniels to cover up an alleged consensual affair, not rape as Carroll has alleged.
In any event, Kaplan made clear that the questioning of prospective jurors about their awareness of, as the judge put it, Trump’s “various legal troubles — past, present and perhaps future" — will ensure a fair jury for trial. “Thus,” Kaplan wrote, “the effect of granting Mr. Trump’s requested postponement would not be to take the New York State charges off the table with respect to jury selection. It would be only to postpone that discussion.”
The judge also didn’t let Trump off without noting that “at least some portion of the recent media coverage of Mr. Trump’s indictment was of his own doing,” citing the former president's statements on social media and in news conferences and interviews related to the indictment.
So, Trump lost his latest attempt at delay, instead giving us a reminder of all his legal troubles — “past, present and perhaps future.”