Reid Hoffman funding Carroll rape-defamation case: Trump lawyers

Attorneys for Donald Trump on Thursday accused writer E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers of deliberately failing for months to disclose that LinkedIn co-founder and major Democratic donor Reid Hoffman helped fund her rape-defamation case against the former president.

Carroll, who alleges Trump raped her in the mid-1990s and then defamed her after she took her story public, was tested in a deposition last October that no one else was paying her legal fees.

But on Monday, Trump’s lawyers said they received a letter from Carroll’s team stating that their client “now recalls that at some point her counsel secured additional funding from a nonprofit organization to offset certain expenses and legal fees.”

That update came about two weeks before the start of the civil defamation trial in federal court in Manhattan, Trump attorneys Alina Habba and Joe Tacopina noted in Thursday’s letter to the judge.

Trump’s lawyers said that on Wednesday, Carroll’s attorneys disclosed that Hoffman was the “primary backer” of that nonprofit group, American Future Republic.

The billionaire executive Hoffman has spent millions of dollars backing Democrats in congressional races and reportedly funding efforts to oppose Trump in elections — including the 2024 presidential race in which he is currently leading the GOP primary field.

Dmitri Mehlhorn, one of Hoffman’s philanthropic advisors, told CNBC that since 2017 they have provided third-party funding to legal efforts that aim to “protect our citizens from violent threats.”

In those instances, “we have not met the plaintiffs, we have not decided who the organization chooses to support and the clients generally do not know our identity,” Mehlhorn said in an emailed statement. In Carroll’s case, “our particular grant was made before Ms. Carroll filed a suit and we had no prior knowledge that our funding would go to support her in particular,” he said.

It was unclear how much money was provided for Carroll’s litigation. In her deposition, Carroll noted that her suit was a contingency case, meaning her attorneys only get paid if she wins the case.

But Habba and Tacopina wrote that the revelation “raises significant concerns as to Plaintiff’s bias and motive” in filing the suit.

Their letter asked Judge Lewis Kaplan to partially reopen the evidence-sharing stage of the case, known as the discovery period. They also asked for a one-month delay of the trial, which is currently set to begin on April 25, or for Kaplan to instruct the jury to note Carroll’s “willful defiance of her discovery obligations.”

“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,” they added.

In a separate letter to the judge on Thursday, Carroll’s lawyer slammed the efforts to disrupt the trial as “baseless.”

Carroll last week “recollected additional information” related to the exchange from her deposition while preparing for the trial, her lawyer wrote.

Carroll’s counsel, Roberta Kaplan, said they “promptly disclosed to Trump’s counsel that, while Carroll stands by her testimony about this being a contingency fee case, she now recalls that her counsel at some point secured additional funding from a nonprofit organization to cover certain expenses and fees.”

That funding came in September 2020, nearly a year after Carroll filed a complaint against Trump in state court, her lawyer noted.

The plaintiff’s lawyers told Trump’s team this week that Carroll “has never met and has never been a party to any communications (written or oral) with anyone associated with the nonprofit.” They also proposed a compromise to allow Carroll to be cross-examined about the funding.

“But apparently, that was not enough,” Carroll’s lawyer said.

Carroll’s team also challenged Trump’s lawyers’ requests for last-minute changes to the trial schedule.

“It is, of course, facially absurd for Trump to insist that Reid Hoffman, who has never met or communicated with Carroll, possesses evidence bearing on the truth or falsity of Carroll’s battery and defamation claims,” ​​they wrote.

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