Judge unseals section of Trump deposition in rape-defamation lawsuit by writer E. Jean Carroll

Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks at a rally to support Republican candidates ahead of midterm elections, in Dayton, Ohio, November 7, 2022.

Gaelen Morse | Reuters

A federal judge in New York on Friday rejected an effort by lawyers for former President Donald Trump to keep sealed a portion of the transcript of his deposition in a lawsuit by a writer who accuses him of raping her in the mid-1990s.

Trump’s arguments for keeping the nearly three dozen pages of his deposition sealed “are entirely baseless,” Judge Lewis Kaplan wrote in his order in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.

Kaplan ordered the court clerk to make public the filing that contains the portion of Trump’s deposition.

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Earlier Friday, Kaplan denied Trump’s bid to toss out one of the two defamation lawsuits filed against him by E. Jean Carroll. The writer Carroll says Trump raped her in a dressing room in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan more than two decades ago.

Trump, while serving as president, publicly accused Carroll of making up the rape allegation, saying she was motivated by politics and a desire to sell a book containing her claims.

Carroll then sued him for defamation. She sued him again in November when he made what she says were additional defamatory statements about her.

Her second lawsuit also alleges battery, a claim that was allowed under a new New York state law that allows adults a one-year grace period to file lawsuits alleging sexual abuse that occurred outside of the time frame allowed by the statute of limitations.

Trump answered questions under oath last year in his deposition by lawyers for Carroll.

Kaplan, in his order Friday, said that Trump had no right to confidentiality for his testimony when he gave it. The judge noted that there is a presumptive right held by the public to court documents.

Kaplan added that contrary to Trump’s argument, the portion of his transcript that was redacted in the public filing by Carroll’s lawyers “was directly relevant” to a disagreement between those attorneys and his over whether additional discovery should be conducted for her second lawsuit.

Kaplan first ordered the transcript unsealed on Monday. But he then reversed his order after Trump’s lawyers asked him for three days to file arguments opposing the unsealing.

Trump’s attorneys said they previously had believed, as a result of a prior order by Kaplan, that Carroll’s lawyers, not they, were obligated to address the question of whether the deposition should remain under seal.