Former U.S. President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower for Manhattan federal court for the second defamation trial against him, in New York City on Jan. 22, 2024.
Charly Triballeau | AFP | Getty Images
The sex assault defamation trial of former President Donald Trump in New York was postponed Monday when a juror called in sick.
Trump’s attorney Alina Habba told Judge Lewis Kaplan that she was also feeling feverish and that at least one of her parents had tested positive for Covid-19. Habba tested negative for the virus Monday morning, as did her co-counsel in the case, Michael Madaio, but Habba said her babysitter also has symptoms.
Kaplan called off the scheduled day of testimony after Trump and the plaintiff in the civil case, E. Jean Carroll, had both arrived at U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The judge made that decision after offering Habba the option of proceeding with eight jurors, but she declined to do so.
Despite that, Trump’s ally, GOP House Conference Chair Rep. Elise Stefanik, R-N.Y., later tweeted a response to news of the delay, calling it “blatant election interference!”
Trump, 77, and Carroll, 80, were in the courtroom when Kaplan said the trial would be postponed until Tuesday at the earliest. The postponement was extended later Monday to Wednesday.
Trump stood between Habba and Madaio, with none of them wearing a mask, as Kaplan agreed to the postponement.
The judge then brought in the remaining jurors to explain the delay.
After the jurors were excused, Habba told Kaplan that she wanted to call Trump as a witness on Wednesday.
“Tomorrow is the New Hampshire primary, and I ask that his testimony be Wednesday,” Habba said.
Trump is the Republican front-runner in that presidential primary and in the overall GOP nomination contest, with only former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley remaining as a serious contender after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis dropped out of the race Sunday.
Carroll’s lawyer Robert Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, objected to delaying the trial beyond Tuesday.
“We would like to get this trial over,” said Roberta Kaplan. “I think we should finish tomorrow, Judge Kaplan.”
The judge replied, “I’m not going to decide right now.”
“Circumstances may end up with you getting what you asked for, or maybe not,” he added.
E. Jean Carroll, right, with her lawyers, leaves the Manhattan Federal Court for her civil defamation trial against former U.S. President Donald Trump after it was canceled for the day, in New York City on Jan. 22, 2024.
Angela Weiss | AFP | Getty Images
The trial, which began last week, is being held solely to determine how much Trump must pay Carroll for defaming her in denying her accusation that he raped her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s.
Trump was president at the time he first defamed Carroll in 2019.
Another jury in the same court last year found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll in the attack, and for defaming her in late 2022 when he reiterated his denial of her allegations. That jury ordered him to pay $5 million to her in the case.
Trump is appealing that verdict.
Judge Kaplan ruled before the current trial began that because the first trial had established that Trump defamed Carroll, there was no need to litigate that question before a second jury, leaving only the question of damages to be decided by that panel.
Carroll’s lawyers are seeking at least $10 million from Trump in this case.
Trump wrote more than 40 posts about Carroll on his TruthSocial site on Monday morning.
Don’t miss these stories from CNBC PRO: