Donald Trump is free to skip a New York trial over accusations he raped a writer nearly 30 years ago, but jurors will not be told his absence was meant to spare them and the city snarled traffic and heavy security, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.
US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan also called it premature to grant Trump's request that jurors at E. Jean Carroll's April 25 civil trial be instructed that staying away "by design, avoids the logistical burdens that his presence, as the former president," would cause.
Kaplan said Trump has no obligation to show up or testify, and his lawyers, who said Trump "wishes to appear," can renew the request if he doesn't.
The judge also noted that Trump, the Republican front-runner in the 2024 presidential campaign, is planning a New Hampshire campaign stop on April 27, which would be the trial's third day.
"If the Secret Service can protect him at that event, certainly the Secret Service, the Marshals Service, and the City of New York can see to his security in this very secure federal courthouse," Kaplan wrote.
Lawyers for Trump did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Objections to Trump's request
Carroll's lawyer Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, had objected to Trump's request, saying the idea his absence was "some sort of favor to the City of New York - and that the jury should be instructed as much - taxes the credulity of the credulous."
Security was tight and traffic was disrupted on April 4 when Trump pleaded not guilty in Manhattan criminal court, two blocks from the federal court, to unrelated criminal charges over hush money payments to a porn star.
Carroll, 79, has accused Trump, 76, of raping her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in Manhattan in late 1995 or early 1996.
She is suing for defamation over an October 2022 social media post where Trump called the rape claim a hoax and a lie, and said Carroll was "not my type!" Carroll is also suing for battery.