“Entirely inappropriate”: Judge rebukes Trump over E. Jean Carroll attack on Truth Social

Judge Lewis Kaplan warned Trump's attorney that his client is "tampering with a new source of potential liability"

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Staff Writer

Published April 26, 2023 2:11PM (EDT)

Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 14, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)
Former President Donald Trump speaks to guests at the 2023 NRA-ILA Leadership Forum on April 14, 2023 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Scott Olson/Getty Images)

The judge presiding over advice columnist E. Jean Carroll's rape and defamation civil lawsuit chastised former President Donald Trump for comments he posted on Truth Social an hour before the trial resumed Wednesday.

In his posts, Trump discussed the lawsuit twice, claiming that Carroll's lawyer was a "political operative" and labeling the suit a scam, The New York Times reports. 

Judge Lewis Kaplan called Trump's posts "entirely inappropriate," suggesting that Trump could be attempting to influence the jury. The judge had previously told the parties' legal teams to "inform your clients and witnesses to please refrain from making any statements that are likely to incite violence or civil unrest" on Tuesday, the day the trial began. 

"Your client is basically endeavoring certainly to speak to his quote-unquote public," Kaplan said on Wednesday, appearing to reference a pretrial debate over DNA evidence, "but more troublesome, to the jury in this case, about stuff that has no business being spoken about."

After the evidence disclosure deadline passed in February, Trump's lawyers offered up a DNA sample in exchange for parts of the report about genetic material found on Carroll's dress during the incident. The judge, however, declined, calling the move a stalling tactic.

When Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, informed the judge of Trump's posts, he reminded the court that Trump has refused to give a sample for three years.

Trump's lawyer Joe Tacopina, who said that he did not know of the posts, assured Judge Kaplan that he would do his best to get Trump "to refrain from any further posts regarding this case."

Kaplan responded in kind, telling Tacopina that "we're getting into an area conceivably in which your client may or may not be tampering with a new source of potential liability — and I think you know what I mean," possibly referring to a potential contempt sanction.

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"Although I don't expect Judge Kaplan to take any direct action against Trump for his bizarre posts on Truth Social during the trial, it's apparent that Kaplan is (rightfully) upset," former federal prosecutor and CNN legal analyst Renato Mariotti tweeted about the situation. "It's not going to help Trump's team when the judge is considering a close call, that's for sure."

Former U.S. attorney and MSNBC legal analyst Joyce Vance warned that judges "don't like it when parties comment on cases publicly while there's a jury in the box. Trump can't be bothered to be in the court room & has said he won't testify--probably afraid of cross ex. It's easier to take cheap, untrue shots on social media."

The trial is set to last one to two weeks, though it remains unclear whether Trump will testify. 

The case, filed after New York passed a law last May allowing adult assault victims an opportunity to file civil cases, revolves around Carroll's 2019 memoir, in which she details the mid-1990s encounter with Donald Trump in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room.

Trump denied that he assaulted Carroll in 2019, saying that she was "totally lying" and deeming the allegations a hoax.

Carroll subsequently sued Trump for both battery and defamation.

By Tatyana Tandanpolie

Tatyana Tandanpolie is a staff writer at Salon. Born and raised in central Ohio, she moved to New York City in 2018 to pursue degrees in Journalism and Africana Studies at New York University. She is currently based in her home state and has previously written for local Columbus publications, including Columbus Monthly, CityScene Magazine and The Columbus Dispatch.

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

Brief Donald Trump E Jean Carroll Joe Tacopina Politics