Judge warns Trump “now sailing in harm’s way” over Eric Trump tweeting about dad’s rape trial

The judge warned of obstruction charges against the former president — and potentially his son, expert says

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published April 27, 2023 9:05AM (EDT)

Eric Trump. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
Eric Trump. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The judge overseeing longtime columnist E. Jean Carroll's civil rape and defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump issued a warning after Eric Trump tweeted about the trial on Wednesday.

Judge Lewis Kaplan issued a warning on Wednesday morning to Trump lawyer Joe Tacopina after the former president attacked Carroll on Truth Social. Later in the day, the judge called out the attorney over a tweet from the former president's son.

Kaplan had ruled that LinkedIn founder and Democratic donor Reid Hoffman's financing of Carroll's case could not be used as evidence in the trial but Eric Trump fumed on Truth Social and Twitter that the lawsuit against his father was being allegedly funded by a "political activist."

"A civil lawsuit, being funded by a billionaire, with no direct involvement in the case, out of pure hatred, spite or fear of a formidable candidate, is an embarrassment to our country, should be illegal and tells you everything you need to know about the case," Eric Trump wrote in a Truth Social post that he later shared on Twitter. The post has since been deleted.

Kaplan issued a second warning to Tacopina over the post.

"I said something this morning about your client perhaps now sailing in harm's way, conceivably with his son, if what I just heard is true," Kaplan said, according to The Independent.

"If I were in your shoes, I'd be having a conversation with your client," the judge said, later adding that "there are some relevant United States statutes here and somebody on your side ought to be thinking about them."

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

The former president on Truth Social similarly called out Hoffman's alleged financing of the case and attacked Carroll as "Ms. Bergdorf Goodman" after she accused him of raping her at the department store in the 1990s.

"This is a fraudulent & false story--Witch Hunt!" Trump wrote.

"The Miss Bergdorf Goodman case is financed by a big political donor that they tried to hide," Trump wrote in another post. "Does anybody believe that I would take a then almost 60 year old woman that I didn't know, from the front door of a very crowded department store, (with me being very well known, to put it mildly!), into a tiny dressing room, and …. her. She didn't scream? There are no witnesses? Nobody saw this? She never made a police complaint? If I was seen there with a woman-BIG PRESS. SCAM!"

Kaplan called out Tacopina over his client publicly commenting on evidence banned from the trial, calling the former president's posts "entirely inappropriate."

"Your client is basically endeavoring certainly to speak to his quote-unquote public," Kaplan said, "but more troublesome, to the jury in this case, about stuff that has no business being spoken about."

Tacopina said he was not aware of the posts and that he would try to get his client to "refrain from any further posts regarding this case."

"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," Kaplan replied.

Former U.S. Attorney Joyce White Vance warned that the judge war likely referring to potential obstruction charges.

"The judge in the E Jean Carroll trial is taking Trump's derogatory social media posts from this morning seriously," she tweeted. "His reference to other federal statutes is likely to the 18 USC 1500 series of obstruction of justice crimes."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

MORE FROM Igor Derysh

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

Aggregate Donald Trump E Jean Carroll Eric Trump Politics