A federal judge overseeing a civil battery and defamation trial involving Donald Trump has denied the former president’s motion for a mistrial.
The ruling came before E. Jean Carroll, the columnist who sued Trump, again took the stand for cross-examination in a session that included questions about a “Law & Order SVU” episode and Trump’s former program “The Apprentice.”
Trump had argued that Judge Lewis Kaplan had made “pervasive unfair and prejudicial rulings” against him. In a letter filed overnight Monday, his attorney Joe Tacopina said alternatively he would ask Kaplan to “correct the record for each and every instance in which the Court has mischaracterized the facts of this case to the jury” or provide him greater leeway in cross examining Carroll.
“Here, despite the fact trial testimony has been underway for only two days, the proceedings are already replete with numerous examples of Defendant’s unfair treatment by the Court, most of which has been witnessed by the Jury,” the letter said.
Carroll sued Trump, alleging he raped her in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s and then defamed her when he denied her claim, said she wasn’t his type and suggested she made up the story to boost sales of her book. Trump has denied any wrongdoing.
Among the issues raised by Tacopina are the judge’s ruling restricting Tacopina from asking Carroll additional questions about any efforts Carroll made to try to obtain security camera footage from the department store, “expressing a corroborative view” that there was no one on the sixth floor of the department store at the time of the alleged assault, and calling certain lines of the defense attorney’s questioning “argumentative” in front of the jury.
It would be unusual for the judge to declare a mistrial based on his own statements during a trial.
Cross examination of Carroll continues
During cross-examination on Monday, Tacopina sought to suggest that Carroll was not scarred by the alleged assault.
Carroll testified that she continued to shop at Bergdorf Goodman, and Trump’s lawyer showed receipts indicating that Carroll spent more than $13,000 at the department store during 23 shopping trips between 2001 and 2018.
“I made that clear that Bergdorf’s is not a place that I’m afraid to enter,” Carroll testified.
She also agreed that she was a “fan” of the “The Apprentice” starring Trump and enjoyed watching the competition between aspiring businesspeople.
Tacopina showed her a post on her Facebook page from August 6, 2012, in which Carroll wrote: “Would you have sex with Donald Trump for $17,000 (even if you could a) give the money to charity b) close your eyes? and he’s not allowed to speak?)”
“You joked around about having sex with Donald Trump for money in this Facebook post, correct?” Tacopina asked Carroll.
She responded that yes, she did.
Trump’s attorney also reviewed a series of columns Carroll has written recommending that her readers report sexual abuse and other harassment to the police.
Carroll acknowledged the advice she’d given readers to report allegations including rape to the police and explained why she didn’t call the police for herself.
“I would never call the police for something I was ashamed of,” Carroll said. “I was ashamed of what happen. I thought it was my fault, I would never, never, never go to the police ever.”
Tacopina also read excerpts from Carroll’s book and asked her why she didn’t sue former CBS executive Les Moonves after he denied her allegations that he sexually assaulted her in an elevator.
“He didn’t call me names,” Carroll said. “He didn’t grind my face through the mud like Donald Trump did.”
Questions about Law & Order SVU episode
Also Monday, Tacopina asked Carroll whether she knew about a 2012 Law & Order SVU episode in which a woman is raped in a Bergdorf Goodman lingerie department dressing room.
Carroll said she’s aware the episode exists and found the similarity to her own allegations astonishing, but never watched the episode. She testified she doesn’t watch Law & Order SVU because it’s too violent.
The jury saw an email a stranger sent Carroll days after she first came forward in 2019 describing the episode to her. Carroll responded to the email at the time thanking the woman for her email but said she wasn’t aware of the episode.
“Also there are 200 scripted shows a year on tv, this kind of thing is bound to show up. Indeed, I’m surprised this sort of plot is not seen more often,” Carroll also wrote in the email.
During redirect, Carroll’s attorney Michael Ferrara asked a series of questions about her knowledge of the episode.
Has she ever seen the episode, Ferrara asked.
“Never,” Carroll said.
He also asked if she knows what happens in the episode or had seen it or heard of the episode before writing her book.
Carroll again said no.
Finally the lawyer asked, “Are you making up your accusation based upon what happened in a popular TV show?”
Carroll, chuckling, again said no.
This story has been updated with additional developments.