Alina Habba Asserts No Oath-Forced Testimony for Trump

Legal Battle Intensifies in High-Profile Defamation Case.

by Nouman Rasool
Alina Habba Asserts No Oath-Forced Testimony for Trump
© Seth Wenig-Pool/Getty Images

In a recent development, Alina Habba, the attorney representing former President Donald Trump, has strongly opposed the notion of Trump being compelled to testify under oath in the ongoing defamation case filed by E. Jean Carroll.

This stance was articulated in a court filing on Sunday, marking a significant moment in the legal proceedings. Donald Trump, who currently leads in the 2024 GOP presidential primary polls, is embroiled in a second defamation lawsuit filed by Carroll, a former columnist for Elle magazine.

The trial, set to commence on January 16, aims to determine the damages Trump owes following a previous verdict. In a civil trial concluded last May, Trump was found liable for sexual misconduct and defamation against Carroll, resulting in a $5 million compensation to her.

The defamation charges stem from Trump’s denial of Carroll's allegations of sexual assault at a Bergdorf Goodman store in New York City during the 1990s. In 2019, Trump dismissed Carroll’s claims, stating she was "not my type" and insinuating the allegations were fabricated.

Carroll's current lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages. Last Friday, Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, submitted a request to U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is presiding over the case. The request entailed specific rules regarding Trump's testimony and conduct, referencing his previous actions during his New York civil fraud trial.

Carroll's Team's Demands

The request from Carroll's legal team includes an insistence for Trump to acknowledge, on record and under oath, his sexual assault on Carroll and his false accusations against her. It also demands Trump’s understanding and compliance with the court-imposed limitations on his courtroom behavior.

In response, Habba sent a letter to Judge Kaplan on Sunday, critiquing the proposed conditions. She argued that "President Trump cannot and should not be made to testify under oath in any particular affirmative manner." MSNBC legal analyst Lisa Rubin highlighted Habba's response, noting its lack of commitment to adhering to court orders.

Rubin pointed out Habba’s emphasis on Trump’s right to avoid a particular manner of testimony, reflecting a continuous pattern of Trump accusing others of unlawful persecution while seemingly disregarding standard legal protocols.

The request concerning Trump's conduct suggests he might testify during the jury trial, though his attendance is not mandatory. Last week, Trump expressed his intent to attend the trial, stating he was unfamiliar with Carroll.

However, he recently requested a postponement due to his travel plans for his mother-in-law's funeral. Judge Kaplan denied this request, expressing condolences but affirming the trial's scheduled continuation.