FILE PHOTO: Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks the National Rifle Association (NRA) annual convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, U.S., April 14, 2023. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein/File Photo
By Jonathan Stempel
NEW YORK (Reuters) – Donald Trump wants to attend next week’s trial involving the writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of rape, but may not because of security issues the former U.S. president’s appearance would cause, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
In a letter to U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan federal court, Trump’s lawyer Joe Tacopina said that while Trump “wishes to appear at trial,” the judge should instruct jurors not to hold it against him if he stays away.
The lawyer said a Trump appearance would prompt a repeat of the disruption caused on April 4, when Trump pleaded not guilty in Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s criminal case over hush money payments to porn star Stormy Daniels.
He asked that jurors be told that Trump’s absence “avoids the logistical burdens that his presence, as the former president, would cause the courthouse and New York City. Accordingly, his presence is excused unless and until he is called by either party to testify.”
Tacopina also represents him in Bragg’s criminal case. Trump is also the front-runner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential campaign.
Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, called Trump’s argument “frivolous” in a letter to the judge, to whom she is not related.
“The notion that Mr. Trump would not appear as some sort of favor to the City of New York –and that the jury should be instructed as much– taxes the credulity of the credulous,” she wrote.
Carroll’s lawyer also said if Trump could find time in April to attend a UFC wrestling event and a National Rifle Association meeting, and make a planned New Hampshire campaign stop two days after jury selection is to begin, “surely he could surmount the logistics of attending his own federal trial.”
On the day of Trump’s plea, the southbound FDR Drive was closed for Trump’s motorcade to the criminal court. Several blocks around the court were also closed.
Tacopina said if Trump attended Carroll’s trial, the Secret Service would again be needed to coordinate his movement, parts of the courthouse and surrounding area would be closed, and even some courthouse personnel would be confined to their offices.
Carroll, 79, has accused Trump of defamation by denying on his Truth Social platform that he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in the mid-1990s. She is also suing for battery.
The trial may last five to seven days. Carroll plans to attend every day. Trump has until Thursday to advise whether he plans to attend at all.