Experts predict Trump's bid to delay rape trial "will fail": He created the "media chaos" himself

Trump is seeking a “cooling off” period ahead of the upcoming civil trial over media coverage of his indictment

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Staff Writer

Published April 12, 2023 11:06AM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at CPAC on March 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland.  (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks to reporters before his speech at CPAC on March 4, 2023 in National Harbor, Maryland. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Former President Donald Trump's attorneys asked to delay his upcoming rape trial amid a flurry of media coverage following his indictment over his role in a hush-money scheme to pay off adult film star Stormy Daniels during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Currently slated for April 25, the civil rape trial follows accusations from E. Jean Carroll, a former magazine columnist who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. 

Ahead of the scheduled trial, Trump's attorneys Joseph Tacopina and Alina Habba asked U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan to delay the proceedings by four weeks, citing the "deluge of prejudicial media coverage concerning his unprecedented criminal indictment and arraignment in Manhattan" in a letter to the judge.

Kaplan released the letter publicly on Tuesday night. The letter alleges that "many, if not most, prospective jurors will have the criminal allegations top of mind when judging President Trump's defense against Ms. Carroll's allegations," arguing that a weekslong hiatus would mitigate the risk of "pretrial prejudice." These jurors, the letter adds, "will have the breathless coverage of President Trump's alleged extra-marital affair with Stormy Daniels still ringing in their ears if [the] trial goes forward as scheduled."

Trump's lawyers also asserted that his recent arrest has led to an increase in public interest in the Carroll-Trump case, claiming that the indictment "drove a more than four-fold increase in coverage of this case," per an analysis of a spike in Google searches for "Jean Carroll Donald Trump."

Trump's legal team is looking for a late May trial when they feel a jury is "far more likely to be impartial than one recently inundated with prejudicial media coverage."

Reuters reported that Caroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan — unrelated to Judge Kaplan — indicated that she will respond to Trump's appeal in a letter to the judge. 

Want a daily wrap-up of all the news and commentary Salon has to offer? Subscribe to our morning newsletter, Crash Course.

MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin noted on Twitter that despite citing the media frenzy over his indictment in the letter, Trump's lawyers never "acknowledge how much of that maelstrom Trump created."

"It also should escape no one that the letter accuses the press of inciting animus toward Trump and threatening Trump's rights. There are certainly threats and incitement in the public domain right now. But they are not aimed at Trump," Rubin wrote. "Instead, they've been directed at the Manhattan DA, a state court judge, & their respective staffs & families. And those threats have been significant enough that the judge in the Carroll case has ordered not once but twice that the jurors will be anonymous, even to the lawyers."

Rubin added that for "Trump's lawyers now to portray him as the hunted, not the hunter, is especially backward, if utterly predictable."

Attorney Bradley Moss predicted the move would ultimately be unsuccessful.

"Trump is a master. Creates media chaos for weeks. Finally gets indicted. Immediately does media to continue the focus on his indictment. Launches attacks on the prosecutors and judge. Then says the civil trial needs a 'cooling off period,'" he tweeted. "Rather clever. Will fail though."

By Gabriella Ferrigine

Gabriella Ferrigine is a staff writer at Salon. Originally from the Jersey Shore, she moved to New York City in 2016 to attend Columbia University, where she received her B.A. in English and M.A. in American Studies. Formerly a staff writer at NowThis News, she has an M.A. in Magazine Journalism from NYU and was previously a news fellow at Salon.

MORE FROM Gabriella Ferrigine

Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Aggregate Donald Trump E. Jean Carroll Joe Tacopina Politics