The judge hearing the civil sexual assault lawsuit against Donald Trump warned his attorneys on Wednesday that their client needs to stop posting on social media about the case. The admonition—which seemed to carry a veiled threat that Trump could face a contempt of court ruling or other legal consequences if he’s not more careful with his public statements—came after the former president used his Truth Social platform to slam accuser E. Jean Carroll and her attorney.
Carroll is suing Trump in New York federal court for battery and defamation. She alleges that Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1996. She says that after she told her story in a recent book, Trump defamed her by calling her a liar and saying she was “not my type.”
Early Wednesday morning, Trump published two posts about the case. In the first, he mocked Carroll, calling her “Ms. Bergdorf Goodman,” and complained that her legal team was paid for by LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman, a prominent liberal political donor. That detail was revealed last week in pre-trial hearings, but Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Hoffman’s involvement shouldn’t be mentioned in front of the jury. Trump also referred to the fact that Carroll says she saved the dress that she wore the day she was assaulted and hasn’t washed it. Her legal team has said that the dress has been analyzed for DNA and that the DNA of a man was found on the sleeve. Trump initially refused to give a DNA sample in the case, and Kaplan ultimately barred mention of DNA in the case. But Trump’s Truth Social post this morning seemed to demand that the DNA issue be included.
“She said there was a dress, using the ol’ Monica Lewinsky ‘stuff’, then she didn’t want to produce it. The dress should be allowed to be part of the case. This is a fraudulent & false story–Witch Hunt!” Trump wrote.
In court, Trump’s attorney, Joe Tacopina, struggled to explain to an irate Kaplan what Trump was talking about, since Tacopina himself had argued for DNA to be excluded. Kaplan also said it appeared that Trump was trying to influence the jury.
“Your client is basically endeavoring to speak to his public, but more troublesome, to the jury in this case,” Kaplan said.
Tacopina said he would try to talk to Trump about restraining himself in future posts, but he made no promises.
“I will address them with my client, to the degree I have an ability to,” Tacopina said, sounding much meeker than his scathing opening statements on Tuesday, in which he aggressively attacked Carroll’s story.
“I hope you’re more successful, because we’re getting into an area where your client might be tampering with a potential new source of liability,” Kaplan said. “And, I think you know what I mean.”
The issue was dropped at that point, and—following a witness who described the layout of the Bergdorf Goodman store in 1996—Carroll herself took the stand to deliver emotional testimony describing the alleged assault. Her testimony continues this afternoon.