A Manhattan federal judge on Thursday allowed attorneys of former President Donald Trump to depose, for questions related to witness credibility, E. Jean Carroll, a writer who accused Trump of sexual assault and defamation.
U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, ordered that Trump’s attorneys, Joseph Tacopina and Alina Habba, can question Carroll on an apparent inconsistency in her sworn testimony in pre-trial depositions about how she funded her defamation lawsuit against Trump.
It came after Trump’s attorneys learned days ago that—contrary to Carroll’s sworn statements in an Oct. 14, 2022, deposition that no one else is paying her legal fees—prominent Democrat donor, LinkedIn Founder Reid Hoffman, is funding at least some of her legal fees.
This apparent inconsistency “might prove relevant to the question of plaintiffs credibility, in view of the deposition testimony” of Carroll, the judge wrote in his Thursday order.
The lawsuit dated to 2019, when Carroll accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s.
After the then-president denied her allegations in 2019, Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against him in the same year, which bounced around state, federal, and appellate courts in New York and Washington, D.C.
Trump has denied all of Carroll’s allegations.
Thursday’s development gives Trump’s attorneys an opportunity before the upcoming trial, set for April 25, to gather potential evidence to advance their position that Carroll is not credible.
In an Oct. 14, 2022, deposition, Carroll said under oath that her legal fees are paid on contingency—meaning that the payment will be contingent upon the case’s success and confirmed that no one else was paying her legal fees.
But according to an April 10 letter from Carroll’s attorney to Trump’s attorneys, Carroll “now recalls that at some point her counsel secured additional funding from a nonprofit organization to offset certain expenses and legal fees.”
This funding, Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan wrote in an April 13 response to Trump’s letter, was obtained from “a nonprofit to help pay certain costs and fees in connection with the firm’s work on Carroll’s behalf.”
By Gary Bai