For the past two weeks, Donald J. Trump’s lawyers have tried to paint E. Jean Carroll’s rape allegations as “unbelievable.” At the same time, they have left open the possibility that Mr. Trump could come to court and deny the accusations himself.
On Sunday night, that door officially closed.
Last week, Mr. Trump’s lawyer Joseph Tacopina told the court his client would not be testifying or attending the trial.
But early on Thursday, at a golf course in Ireland, Mr. Trump indicated that he might come to court. “I have to go back for a woman that made a false accusation against me, and I have a judge who is extremely hostile,” he said.
In response, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who is presiding over the trial in federal court in Manhattan, gave Mr. Trump one more opportunity to reconsider: Mr. Tacopina had until 5 p.m. on Sunday to file a motion asking the judge to allow Mr. Trump to testify.
Yet no motion was filed on Sunday night, and Mr. Trump is not expected to appear in court on Monday.
By not testifying or offering his own account, Mr. Trump is depending on his lawyer’s efforts to erode Ms. Carroll’s credibility. Mr. Tacopina has questioned every aspect of her story, highlighting details he has suggested are implausible and questioning her confusion over details. He has also strongly suggested in cross-examination that she has a political motive to lie.
If the jury finds Ms. Carroll’s story “unbelievable,” Mr. Trump is not likely to be found liable.
Still, Mr. Trump’s decision not to testify or attend the trial has given Ms. Carroll the opportunity to define Mr. Trump on her own terms. Most notably, her legal team, led by Roberta Kaplan, offered selected clips from Mr. Trump’s depositions, rallies and debates that reflect the person they want the jury to see: a celebrity who thinks his star-power gives him the ability to make unwanted sexual advances on women with impunity.