Former President Donald Trump is seeking to block an infamous recording from being introduced as evidence in a defamation trial scheduled for next month.
E. Jean Carroll, the former Elle columnist who sued Trump for defamation after he denied raping her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s, wants to include as evidence the 2005 video of Trump bragging to “Access Hollywood” host Billy Bush about groping women.
“I don’t even wait,” Trump is heard saying on the tape, which came to light during the 2016 presidential race. “I just start kissing them. It’s like a magnet. Just kiss. I don’t even wait. And when you’re a star they let you do it. You can do anything, grab them by the p—-, you can do anything.”
Trump’s attorney, Alina Habba, said in a filing with the court late Thursday that the “Access Hollywood” tape shares no unique characteristics to the Carroll case.
“The conduct described on the Tape, which Defendant denies ever actually occurred, were made ten years after the purported incident took place and does not reflect the type of unique and distinctive conduct that can be ‘ear-mark[ed] … as the handiwork’ of Defendant to isolate him as the only person that could have possibly committed these acts,” Habba wrote.
“Plaintiff, in continuing her unabashed demand to admit the Tape, has made it clear that she wishes to convert this trial into a referendum on Plaintiff’s character and distract the jury from determining the merits of the controlling issues of this case,” wrote Habba.
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, has argued that the recording is evidence of a pattern of Trump’s behavior.
“On the tape, Trump described the precise conduct that he engaged in here with respect to Carroll,” Kaplan alleged in a filing last month. “He didn’t wait before he kissed Carroll. He didn’t wait before he grabbed her vagina. And he acted throughout the encounter as if he was entitled to do whatever he pleased with Carroll.”
The trial is scheduled to start April 25, although a pending decision in a Washington, D.C., court could halt the case if it’s determined that Trump was acting in his official capacity as president when he denied Carroll’s rape claim.
Last November, Carroll filed a separate lawsuit against Trump alleging defamation and battery under a New York law that allows alleged adult sex assault victims to bring claims otherwise barred by the passage of time.
Judge Lewis Kaplan, who is overseeing both cases, has said he is still deciding whether the trials will be combined.