A lawyer for Donald Trump said the New York author who accused the former president of raping her in the 1990s failed to disclose that she was getting legal funding from Reid Hoffman, the billionaire co-founder of LinkedIn and a major donor to the Democratic Party.
At a deposition last year, the writer, E. Jean Carroll, said “no” when asked if she was receiving outside funding for the litigation, attorney Alina Habba said in a letter to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan on Thursday. Habba told the judge she received a letter on April 10 from Carroll’s attorney saying the author “now recalls” that her legal team had secured outside funding.
The “belated disclosure,” two weeks before Carroll’s civil sexual assault case against Trump is set for trial, “raises significant concerns as to plaintiff’s bias and motive” in suing, Habba said in the letter.
Habba asked the judge for a one-month delay of the trial, which is set to begin April 25, and to allow her team to investigate the funding issue, or to have the court give the jury an instruction about Carroll’s “willful defiance of her discovery obligations.” The defense this week asked for a trial delay given the “deluge” of publicity over Trump’s recent unrelated criminal indictment on state charges in Manhattan.
The press office of venture capital firm Greylock Partners, where Hoffman is a partner, didn’t immediately respond to a message seeking comment on Habba’s letter.
In an interview on Thursday, Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan acknowledged Hoffman’s financing.
“He provided some funding for the case, yes,” she said.
But she said Carroll wasn’t aware of the outside financing at the time and that her answer at the deposition was accurate.
Habba blasted that explanation in her letter to the judge and said that Carroll’s lawyers should have corrected her at the time if her answer was misleading.
“The proposition that plaintiff has suddenly ‘recollected’ the source of her funding for this high-profile litigation — which has spanned four years, spawned two separate actions, and been before numerous state, federal, and appellate courts — is not only preposterous, it is demonstrably false,” Habba said.
Habba said the financing is concerning because Hoffman has publicly stated his determination to use his money to avoid another Trump presidency. Trump is currently the leading contender for the 2024 Republican nomination. He has denied the rape allegation and called Carroll’s suit, as well as his fraud indictment in New York state court and the other probes into his conduct, part of a partisan effort to take him down.
Hoffman also gave $600,000 to a legal defense fund tied to Fusion GPS, which created a widely criticized report on Trump known as the Steele dossier before the 2016 election, Habba said in her filing.
The late disclosure of Hoffman’s funding for the Carroll case “strikes at the heart of one of the key aspects of plaintiff’s defamation claim,” Habba said. She said that was whether the lawsuit “is a ‘hoax’ that was commenced and/or continued to advance a political agenda.”
Carroll alleges Trump assaulted her in a department store dressing room in Manhattan after they ran into each other while shopping. She went public with her claim in 2019 and sued Trump for defamation when he called her a liar from the White House.
She has also sued him for battery under a new New York law that temporarily lifts the statute of limitations on decades-old assault claims. That’s the case set for trial this month.
The case is E. Jean Carroll v. Donald J. Trump, 22-cv-10016, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).