Justice Department can't defend Trump in rape defamation lawsuit, judge says

Clay Curtis
October 28, 2020

According to Judge Lewis Kaplan, Trump must remain a defendant in the lawsuit and can not be replaced by the United States government.

Citing a law created to protect federal employees from being sued over actions stemming from the performance of their duties, the department argued that he was serving in his capacity as president when he denied Ms Carroll's allegation.

The DOJ moved the lawsuit to federal court after Justice Verna Saunders of NY state court in Manhattan had in August rejected Trump's bid to postpone the case.

Acting at the behest of US Attorney General William Barr, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) moved the case to federal court, where it said Trump acted in his official capacity when denying Carroll's claims, and thus could not be sued personally for defamation.

"Even if he were such an employee, President Trump's allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment".

She said the US Supreme Court's recent rejection of Trump's claim of absolute immunity from criminal proceedings while in office applied to state court proceedings involving his unofficial or personal conduct. It's unclear whether the Justice Department will appeal the ruling, and a spokesperson did not immediately respond to Insider's request for comment.

The DoJ had raised this to a federal court level, where the case would pit Ms Carroll against the United States government - not Mr Trump as a private citizen.

E Jean Carroll
Ms Carroll says Donald Trump raped her in the 1990s

Judge Kaplan's ruling means the original case can go ahead.

She says the attack happened at a Bergdorf Goodman store in Midtown Manhattan in late 1995 or early 1996, when the pair bumped into each other while shopping.

She said they engaged in a lighthearted chat about trying on a see-through lilac grey bodysuit when they made their way to a dressing room, where she said Trump pushed her against a wall and raped her.

Ms Carroll, who wants unspecified damages and a retraction of Mr Trump's statements, also seeks a DNA sample from Mr Trump to see whether it matches as-yet-unidentified male genetic material found on a dress that she says she was wearing during the alleged attack.

Trump said Carroll was "totally lying" to sell a memoir and that he'd never met her, though a 1987 photo showed them and their then-spouses at a social event.

Trump is being sued for defamation by writer E. Jean Carroll, who has accused the president of raping her in the 1990s.

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