President Donald Trump’s lawyers want to put the brakes on a lawsuit filed by an advice columnist who has accused him of raping her in the 1990s and is seeking his DNA as possible evidence.
Trump attorneys argued in legal papers this week that E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit and “extensive and burdensome” information-gathering requests should be delayed until New York’s highest court rules on whether another woman can proceed with a somewhat similar suit.
Carroll and the other woman, former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, claim Trump besmirched them by calling them liars after they, separately, accused him of sexual assault.
In Zervos’ case, Trump’s lawyers have argued that an incumbent president can’t be sued in state courts, and they are asking the state high court to decide.
“That threshold issue should be decided” before Carroll’s case goes any further, Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz wrote.
If a court agrees, Carroll’s suit would be on hold for months.
She questioned Trump’s bid to hold off her case, asking Wednesday on Twitter: “What is (Trump) afraid of?”
Requests for comment were sent Thursday to her legal team and Trump’s.
A previous Trump lawyer tried unsuccessfully last month to get the case dismissed or put on hold, though his arguments were different.
Carroll, a longtime Elle magazine advice writer, alleged last year that Trump raped her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. She said it happened after they ran into each other by chance and bantered about trying on a bodysuit.
Trump has said Carroll was “totally lying” to sell a book she published last year. He said he’d never met her, dismissing a 1987 social-scene photo of the two and their then-spouses as a moment when he was “standing with my coat on in a line.”
Carroll said his remarks hurt her career by making readers reluctant to seek her advice.
She is seeking a DNA sample from Trump to see whether it matches unidentified male genetic material in skin cells on a dress that Carroll says she wore during the alleged rape, didn’t launder and has since worn only once — to a photo shoot for a magazine story that aired her allegation last year.
Zervos, a California restaurateur, was a 2006 contestant on the Trump-hosted reality show “The Apprentice.” A decade later, she became one of more than a dozen women who came forward during Trump’s presidential campaign to accuse him of sexual assault or sexual harassment over the years.
Zervos alleged he subjected her to unwanted kissing and groping when she sought career advice on two occasions in 2007, once in his New York office and once at a California hotel where he was staying.
On the campaign trail, Trump called all his accusers “liars” offering “totally made-up nonsense to steal the election.” He also issued a statement denying Zervos’ allegations and retweeted a message calling them “a hoax.”
Her suit said his comments sparked threats against her and her restaurant.
Appeals judges last month put the case on hold until the state’s highest court rules on Trump’s argument that presidents aren’t subject to state court lawsuits while in office. The delay came about three weeks before Trump was due to undergo sworn pretrial questioning.
The high court, called the Court of Appeals, has set a May 11 deadline for both sides’ legal filings. A decision could take months longer.
Both Carroll and Zervos are seeking damages and retractions of Trump’s statements about them, according to their suits. Zervos also wants an apology.
The Associated Press generally does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly.