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Does the Delay in Trump’s Defamation Trial Amount to ‘Election Interference’?
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Does the Delay in Trump’s Defamation Trial Amount to ‘Election Interference’?

The judge postponed the proceedings because a juror and Trump’s own lawyer were ill.

Former President Donald Trump leaves Trump Tower for Manhattan federal court in New York City on January 22, 2024. Proceedings in his defamation trial were postponed because a juror and Trump’s lawyer were ill. (Photo by Charly TRIBALLEAU / AFP) (Photo by Charly Triballeau/AFP/Getty Images)

Social media users are making claims of “election interference” after the judge in Donald Trump’s defamation trial involving E. Jean Carroll delayed proceedings on Monday. The former president was scheduled to potentially testify in the civil trial before traveling to New Hampshire on Tuesday for the state’s Republican primary. One viral tweet by user “johnny maga” garnered more than 307,000 views in less than three hours and was even retweeted by Republican Rep. Elise Stefanik.

The decision to delay proceedings, however, actually stems from the reported illnesses of a juror and lawyer, and was made at the request of Trump attorney Alina Habba. As the New York Times reports, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan told lawyers for both Trump and Carroll on Monday that one of the trial’s nine jurors had called in sick while en route to the courthouse. Habba also reported feeling ill after recently being exposed to COVID-19, despite testing negative.

The New York Times story reported that Habba initially requested for the trial to be postponed for a single day, but changed her request to two days after being reminded by Trump of Tuesday’s primary election. Judge Kaplan said that it is possible that the court reconvenes on Tuesday morning, though proceedings could be delayed further depending on the health of participants. The judge did not say whether Trump would be able to testify Wednesday, but he hasn’t ruled it out. “Circumstances may result in your getting what you ask for, and maybe not,” he told Habba, according to Reuters.

Trump previously faced Carroll in a civil trial that resulted in a May 2023 jury ruling ordering the former president to pay $5 million in damages to Carroll for sexual abuse and defamation. The current lawsuit dates back to 2019, when Carroll sued Trump for making defamatory statements after she accused him of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s. That suit was blocked by the Department of Justice on the grounds that “Trump’s comments were made in his official capacity as president,” delaying the case until the Biden administration allowed it to go forward. Trump’s statements against Carroll were already found by a judge to be libelous in September 2023, meaning that the current trial will only determine the amount he must pay in damages.

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Alex Demas is a fact checker at The Dispatch and is based in Washington, D.C. Prior to joining the company in 2023, he worked in England as a financial journalist and earned his MA in Political Economy at King's College London. When not heroically combating misinformation online, Alex can be found mixing cocktails, watching his beloved soccer team Aston Villa lose a match, or attempting to pet stray cats.