Before former President Donald Trump took the witness stand, a juror’s illness caused a last-minute delay Monday in a defamation trial over his comments about E. Jean Carroll, the columnist he claims he sexually assaulted of her in the 1990s.
It is currently unclear when the trial will resume. The court is awaiting the results of the COVID-19 tests carried out on all jurors. A lawyer on Trump’s legal team has also not been feeling well but tested negative for the virus, and her team wants to postpone the Republican presidential candidate’s next appearance until after the New Hampshire primary scheduled for Tuesday.
There was no indication that Trump himself was not feeling well, and he did not wear a mask in court as he watched Monday’s brief proceedings. Federal Judge Lewis A. Kaplan announced that one of the nine jurors was sent home and asked to take a coronavirus test after he reported feeling feverish and nauseous.
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, also reported that at least one of her parents has COVID-19 and that she had a temperature in the last two days after having dinner with them several days ago. She said her partner, Michael Madaio, also attended the dinner, although they both tested negative for the disease on Monday. Habba said then that she did not see any problem “in a short delay of one day” for everyone to be tested. No attorney wore a mask in court.
Habba asked if Trump’s testimony could be delayed until Wednesday because of the New Hampshire primary, while Carroll’s attorney pushed for the trial to resume Tuesday, if possible. The judge did not immediately rule on Habba’s request, but told him: “Circumstances may cause him to get what he asks for, and they may not.”
Whatever the case, Trump’s testimony will allow him—within limits that could well be tested—to explain to a jury why he not only denied Carroll’s claims, but called her a liar who faked a sexual attack to sell a autobiography.
The Associated Press does not typically reveal the names of those who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly, as Carroll has done.