By LARRY NEUMEISTER and JILL COLVIN, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — Former President Donald Trump angrily lashed out Wednesday, calling the nation’s legal system a “broken disgrace” after a judge ruled he must answer questions under oath next week in a defamation lawsuit lodged by a writer who says he raped her in the mid-1990s.
He also called the 2019 lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, “a hoax and a lie.”
The outburst late in the day came hours after U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan rejected a request by his lawyers to delay a deposition scheduled for Oct. 19.
Kaplan is presiding over the case in which Carroll said Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman store in the mid-1990s. He called the lawsuit “a complete con job.”
“I don’t know this woman, have no idea who she is, other than it seems she got a picture of me many years ago, with her husband, shaking my hand on a reception line at a celebrity charity event,” Trump said.
“She completely made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City Department Store and, within minutes, ‘swooned’ her. It is a Hoax and a lie, just like all the other Hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years,” he said.
Then he grumbled: “Now all I have to do is go through years more of legal nonsense in order to clear my name of her and her lawyer’s phony attacks on me. This can only happen to ‘Trump’!”
Carroll is scheduled to be deposed on Friday.
Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said she was pleased with the judge’s ruling and looked forward to filing new claims next month “and moving forward to trial with all dispatch” after New York state passed the Adult Survivors Act, allowing her to sue for damages for the alleged rape without the statute of limitations blocking it.
After Trump’s statement was released, a spokesperson for Kaplan’s firm, Kaplan Hecker & Fink, said the “latest statement from Donald Trump obviously does not merit a response.”
Trump’s legal team has tried various legal tactics to delay the lawsuit and prevent him from being questioned by Carroll’s attorneys. But Judge Kaplan wrote that it was time to move forward, especially given the “advanced age” of Carroll, 78, and Trump, 76, and perhaps other witnesses.
“The defendant should not be permitted to run the clock out on plaintiff’s attempt to gain a remedy for what allegedly was a serious wrong,” he wrote.
Carroll’s lawsuit claims that Trump damaged her reputation in 2019 when he denied raping her. Trump’s legal team has been trying to squash the lawsuit by arguing that the Republican was just doing his job as president when he denied the allegations, including when he dismissed his accuser as “not my type.”
Trump doubled down on the comment in his statement Wednesday, saying: “And, while I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type! She has no idea what day, what week, what month, what year, or what decade this so-called ‘event’ supposedly took place. The reason she doesn’t know is because it never happened, and she doesn’t want to get caught up with details or facts that can be proven wrong.”
Whether Trump will remain the defendant in the original lawsuit is a key question because if Trump was acting within the scope of his duties as a federal employee, the U.S. government would become the defendant in the case.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a split decision last month that Trump was a federal employee when he commented on Carroll’s claims. But it asked another court in Washington to decide whether Trump’s public statements occurred during the scope of his employment.
Kaplan, the judge, said Trump has repeatedly tried to delay the collection of evidence in the lawsuit.
“Given his conduct so far in this case, Mr. Trump’s position regarding the burdens of discovery is inexcusable,” he wrote. “As this Court previously has observed, Mr. Trump has litigated this case since it began in 2019 with the effect and probably the purpose of delaying it.”
The judge noted that the collection of evidence for the lawsuit to go to trial was virtually concluded, except for the depositions of Trump and Carroll.
“Mr. Trump has conducted extensive discovery of the plaintiff, yet produced virtually none himself,” Kaplan said. “Completing these depositions — which already have been delayed for years — would impose no undue burden on Mr. Trump, let alone any irreparable injury.”
The judge also said the deposition could be useful when Carroll’s lawyer next month files the new lawsuit.
Whether the rape occurred is central to the defamation claims, as well as the anticipated new lawsuit, the judge said.
Associated Press Writer Jill Colvin reported from Washington
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