NEW YORK — Former President Trump’s defamation trial brought by E. Jean Carroll won’t resume until Wednesday morning, according to a court spokesperson, a timeline that enables Trump to wait until after the New Hampshire primary before deciding whether to testify.
Trump had shown up in the courtroom Monday with his lawyer saying he was prepared to take the stand, but U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan adjourned the proceedings over COVID-19 concerns that led him to send an ill juror home.
The delay created an overlap between Trump’s potential window to testify and the day of New Hampshire’s primary, a critical contest as the former president looks to lock up the nomination.
Trump’s lawyer had asked that he be allowed to take the stand Wednesday so he could first return to the campaign trail for the primary.
The court’s update did not include a rationale, and it remains unclear whether skipping Tuesday was based on health concerns or a response to Trump’s request.
The question of whether Trump will testify has loomed large over the trial; the former president signaled he will do so and attend much of the proceedings, but he has a history of backing out of testifying at the last minute.
After Trump entered the courtroom Monday, his attorney, Alina Habba, indicated Trump was prepared to testify.
Kaplan, a Clinton appointee, agreed to Habba’s request to pause the trial after both she and a juror reported feeling ill. Habba indicated she was recently exposed to COVID-19 but had tested negative Monday morning.
Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.), the chair of the House Republican Conference and a Trump ally, responded by calling the judge’s decision granting Habba’s request as “election interference.”
“This is blatant election interference! Joe Biden and his Democrat cronies are the true threats to democracy! TRUMP 2024!” she wrote on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, responding to a post that suggested the trial would resume Tuesday, the day of the primary.
Carroll’s lawyers sought to push ahead, indicating they would be fine continuing on with the trial without the ill juror if they were still sick.
Carroll is seeking at least $10 million in damages from Trump over his denials of Carroll’s accusation that Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s.
A previous jury found Trump liable for sexual battery, and the latest trial is being held to determine how much Trump must pay for defaming Carroll by denying her story when she came forward in 2019.
After leaving the courthouse Monday, Trump was slated to head to New Hampshire to appear at a rally on the eve of the primary alongside three of his rivals-turned-supporters: Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), entrepreneur Vivek Ramaswamy and North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum (R).