- Trump’s lawyers asked to delay the E. Jean Carroll battery and defamation trial a month on Thursday.
- They said they want to probe a nonprofit backed by Hoffman that gave money to Carroll’s defense.
- The judge ruled to reopen discovery but not to postpone the trial’s April 25 start date.
For the second time in three days, lawyers for former President Donald Trump asked to delay his rape claim trial for a month — this time to probe a nonprofit that they paint in court papers as bankrolling his accuser E. Jean Carroll’s litigation.
In a court filing on Thursday, Trump’s lawyers asked to reopen discovery because it was recently disclosed to them by Carroll’s lawyers that a nonprofit whose “primary backer” is billionaire LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, had paid “certain expenses and legal fees” to their firm, Kaplan Hecker & Fink.
Trump’s lawyers argued they needed an additional month to gather information about Carroll’s financial backing as it’s central to their defense that the case is a “hoax” because it’s politically motivated — which they’ve claimed from the start.
US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan ruled later in the day that he would allow some additional discovery for Trump’s team to explore the issue of credibility (since Carroll previously said her case was not funded by a third party). Beyond that, he ruled the funding has no bearing on the case.
“The question whether and when plaintiff or her counsel have obtained financial support in this action has nothing directly to do with the ultimate merits of the case,” he wrote.
Carroll’s lawyers had maintained the funding is not relevant to the defamation and rape suit — which comes down to whether or not Trump raped her and then called her a liar for publicizing it — and say the money came from what was left of a grant first used to fund another case.
They also maintained Carroll herself never met the funder, an account backed up by Dmitri Mehlhorn, one of Hoffman’s philanthropic advisors.
“Carroll has never met and has never been party to any communications (written or oral) with anyone associated with the nonprofit,” said Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan.
It is unclear how much of Reid’s money granted through his nonprofit was used by Kaplan Hecker & Fink for the Carroll case.
The nonprofit American Future Republic was founded in 2019 by Hoffman and listed total revenue of 21.9 million that year, according to public records. In 2020, the organization listed total assets at around $10 million and donated more than $2 million in support of Biden’s bid for president, according to CNBC.
Mehlhorn said that while Reid’s political philanthropy has a history of supporting Democrats “heavily since Republicans elevated Mr. Trump,” it has “also supported Republicans who have stood up for the safety and security of our Democracy, from Rusty Bowers in Arizona to Brad Raffensberger in Georgia.”
Trump’s lawyers, though, dismiss Hoffman as a “vocal critic” of Trump’s, citing the fact that he said he would ‘spend as much as [he] possibly can’ to keep the former president from a second term in the White House.
Meanwhile, The New York Times has reported that Trump used $10 million from his PAC in 2022 to pay his legal bills, including about $2 million going to Alina Habba’s firm. Habba represents Trump in the Carroll litigation.
Kaplan quickly responded to the request to delay the trial on Thursday saying Carroll had nothing to do with her firm securing funding from the nonprofit and that the money was used to help Carroll nearly a year after she filed suit.
She said Carroll has a contingency fee arrangement with her firm, meaning if they win the case, the firm gets a percentage of the recovery.
Trump team’s most recent delay is part of an ongoing strategy to postpone the trial, she argued.
On Tuesday, Trump’s lawyers asked the judge for a one-month delay to allow the “media frenzy” around his arrest to die down.
“Trial is less than two weeks away, and Trump has now requested two different one-month trial adjournments in the past three days. His latest transparent effort to keep a jury from deciding Carroll’s claims should also be rejected,” Kaplan said.
Carroll did not immediately return Insider’s requests for comment.
“The letter speaks for itself,” Trump’s lawyer, Joe Tacopina, said when reached for comment by Insider on Thursday. “This is a very serious issue.”
The lawsuit in question is the second suit Carroll has filed against Trump. Carroll initially sued Trump for defamation in 2019, when he loudly denied her claim that he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman changing room in the mid-1990s.
But that has been in limbo while appeals courts weigh in on whether Trump can even be sued in that case. Trump’s lawyers and the Department of Justice have been campaigning to remove Trump from the initial lawsuit citing a federal law that they say shields public employees like Trump, who was a sitting president when his initial comments were made.
The second lawsuit was filed last year after New York passed a law temporarily allowing new sexual assault lawsuits in cases for which the statute of limitations had expired. It includes a claim of battery for the alleged sexual assault and defamation for a comment Trump made about Carroll after leaving the White House.