Democrat Megadonor Behind Defamation Lawsuit Against Trump

Gary Bai
By Gary Bai
April 14, 2023US News
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Former President Donald Trump is questioning the “bias and motive” behind a defamation suit against him by a New York writer after learning the lawsuit is funded by a Democrat megadonor, Reid Hoffman, court filings on April 13 indicate.

The development is the latest in the legal saga between Trump and writer E. Jean Carroll that, according to Trump’s lawyers, taints Carroll’s case with political undertones.

It dates to 2019 when Carroll accused the former president of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990s. After Trump denied her allegations in 2019, Carroll filed a defamation lawsuit against Trump in the same year, which bounced around state, federal, and appellate courts in New York and Washington, D.C., and is ongoing.

Carroll filed a separate defamation lawsuit in the Southern District of New York in November 2022, which was the case related to Thursday’s development.

Nonprofit Funding Revealed

In an April 13 letter, Trump’s lawyers Alina Habba and Joseph Tacopina raised concerns about Carroll’s statement in an Oct. 14, 2022, deposition that no one was paying her legal fees.

But according to an April 10 letter from Carroll’s attorney to Trump’s attorneys, Carroll “now recalls that at some point her counsel secured additional funding from a nonprofit organization to offset certain expenses and legal fees.”

That funding, Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said in an April 13 response to Trump’s letter, was obtained from “a nonprofit to help pay certain costs and fees in connection with the firm’s work on Carroll’s behalf.”

Trump’s lawyers say they were told by Carroll’s lawyers that the nonprofit providing this funding is the Democrat-aligned organization American Future Republic. Trump’s lawyers also said the “primary backer” of this nonprofit is Hoffman, the billionaire founder of LinkedIn. Carroll’s attorneys did not dispute this claim and cited Hoffman’s name in their response letter on April 13.

Influence Watch, the Capital Research Center’s policy influence watchdog website, states that Hoffman is the “primary funder” of American Future Republic and characterizes the 501(c)(4) nonprofit as “left-of-center.” The website says the nonprofit had a revenue of over $21.9 million in 2019.

Perjury or Recollection?

According to Trump’s attorneys, it is “demonstrably false” to say Carroll suddenly remembered this funding after the case was fought in two separate actions in state, federal, and appellate courts spanning four years.

“In short, Plaintiff apparently perjured herself during her deposition; her counsel sat by and allowed her to do so, knowing full well that her testimony was false; and then they conspired to conceal the truth for nearly six months, only to disclose it on the eve of trial,” Trump’s lawyer wrote in the filing.

The inconsistency in Carroll’s statements affects the merit of the case, Trump’s attorneys allege in their April 13 letter, considering that Hoffman is openly anti-Trump and might have funded Carroll’s legal fees “for the purpose of pushing a political agenda.”

“Hoffman is one of the largest donors to the Democratic party—reportedly ‘one of the most influential Democratic donors of the Trump era’—and a vocal critic of [Trump] and his political policies,” Trump’s attorneys wrote in the letter, citing a Sept. 23, 2020, Vox article.

In their letter, Trump’s attorneys provided supporting facts, including a deposition of Carroll in which she “admitted … that she initiated the instant lawsuit at the urging of” Trump critic George Conway, and that Carroll has expressed anti-Trump views on Twitter.

“[Carroll’s] potential political ties are pertinent to her motivation for filing her lawsuits, her potential bias against Defendant, and her credibility as a witness,” they added.

In light of these revelations, Trump’s team is requesting that the court reopen the discovery phase of the case to probe Carroll’s source of funding and delay the current trial date of April 25 for a month.

Carroll’s Attorney Responds

In the April 13 letter responding to Trump’s filing, Kaplan objected to Trump’s request to delay the April 25 trial date and characterized Trump’s move as a delay tactic.

The attorney wrote that “Carroll is not a wealthy person” and that his firm, Kaplan, Hecker & Fink, secured the funding from American Future Republic in September 2020, or about 10 months after Carroll launched the lawsuit in September 2019.

“Trump, by contrast, claims to be a billionaire who has reportedly used his own [Political Action Committee] funding to pay for his personal attorneys,” Kaplan said, citing a February 2023 article by The New York Times.

“We informed Trump’s counsel that Carroll has never met and has never been party to any communications (written or oral) with anyone associated with the nonprofit,” Kaplan added.

The attorney further denied that the funding by Hoffman has a bearing on the case’s merit.

“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, and so the rules of discovery and the upcoming trial schedule must be upended to depose him at the eleventh hour,” Kaplan wrote, adding that Trump now has “all the funding-related information about which Carroll has personal knowledge.”

For this reason, Kaplan states, reopening of deposition and delaying the trial date are not needed.

From The Epoch Times

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