Democratic donor and billionaire LinkedIn founder Reid Hoffman is bankrolling a writer’s rape lawsuit against former President Donald Trump, his lawyers said Thursday.
E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, claims Trump defamed her by denying her allegation that he raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room during the mid-1990s. In a Thursday letter to Southern District of New York Judge Lewis Kaplan, Trump attorney Alina Habba requested an opportunity to look into Carroll for failing to disclose the fact that Hoffman helped fund her case and pay her legal fees.
Carroll initially denied in October that anyone was paying her legal fees but recalled in April that “at some point her counsel secured additional funding from a nonprofit organization to offset certain expenses and legal fees,” according to the letter. The organization, American Future Republic, is backed by Hoffman, who has contributed to a number of anti-Trump causes, including paying $620,000 to a legal fund for Fusion GPS, the company behind the discredited Steele dossier.
Among other things, Hoffman has funneled money into an anti-Trump organization claiming to represent Republican women and a misinformation campaign that linked a Republican Senate candidate to Russian bots.
“Plaintiff’s potential political ties are pertinent to her motivation for filing her lawsuits, her potential bias against Defendant, and her credibility as a witness,” the letter states. “Plaintiff waited until Defendant was a sitting President to come forward with her purported twenty-five-year-old allegation that he sexually assaulted her; and she chose to do so in a profoundly public manner–through the publication of a book detailing her claims.”
In her own letter to the judge, Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan dismissed the issue as a tactic to further delay the case, requesting the judge dismiss the request.
“One thing is clear—Trump will stop at nothing to avoid having a jury hear Carroll’s claims,” she wrote.
Judge Kaplan denied Trump’s lawyers request for a one-month delay of the trial but granted their request to look into the matter, allowing them to question Carroll under oath for up to 60 minutes.
Kaplan said in his order that the question of financial support “has nothing directly to do with the ultimate merits of the case” but acknowledged that it could “perhaps prove relevant to the question of the plaintiff’s credibility.”
Hoffman did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.
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