Donald Trump’s attorney on Wednesday said the former president “wishes” to appear at next week’s civil trial where a jury will hear columnist E. Jean Carroll’s assault and defamation claims against him – but his attendance should not be necessary because it would be a “burden” on the city and court.
The letter to the judge, from attorney Joseph Tacopina, appears to argue that Trump shouldn’t attend his civil trial without saying he won’t.
“Defendant Trump wishes to appear at trial,” the letter states, but adds “concern” that New York City and the court would face “logistical and financial burdens” to have a former president travel with the Secret Service and other security protections to the proceedings.
“In order for Defendant Trump to appear, his movement would need to be coordinated preliminarily by a Secret Service advance team hours beforehand each day that he is present, so that a tactical plan may be developed,” such as locking down parts of the courthouse, Tacopina said. Tacopina raised the disruption Trump’s recent criminal arraignment caused in the state court as an example.
“Your consideration is greatly appreciated,” Tacopina added.
Jury selection begins next Tuesday in Carroll’s lawsuit alleging that Trump raped her in a New York dressing room in the mid-1990s and then defamed her years later when he denied it took place, said she wasn’t his “type,” and suggested she made up the story to promote a new book. Trump has denied all allegations against him.
If he were to be called to testify, Trump would show up in person, Tacopina said. If he does not appear, his legal team asks the judge to instruct jurors that he isn’t required to attend and he wouldn’t be there because of the logistical burdens.
Carroll plans to attend the trial, her attorney has said.
In a response to the court on Wednesday afternoon, Carroll’s attorney criticized Trump’s reasoning, but indicated that a live appearance from the former president was not needed for the trial.
“Either way, Ms. Carroll has a right to play Donald Trump’s deposition at trial,” the lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, wrote, “so she has no need for him to testify live.”
“Mr. Trump has yet to answer the Court’s question, and he now asks the Court to deliver an excuse to the jury in the event he decides not to attend trial,” Kaplan wrote. “Given the gravity of the allegations at issue in this case, one might expect Mr. Trump to appear in person. But he is obviously free to choose otherwise … This Court and the City it calls home are fully equipped to handle any logistical burdens that may result from Mr. Trump’s appearance at a weeklong trial.”
They also noted Trump has traveled for other recent events, including an Ultimate Fighting Championship event, and has a campaign appearance scheduled two days into the trial.
This story has been updated with additional developments.