Sep 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

DOJ moves to defend Trump in rape accuser E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit

Combination images of  E. Jean Carroll and President Trump.

Combination images of E. Jean Carroll and President Trump. Photo: Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for Glamour/Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

The Department of Justice filed a motion notifying a New York State court Tuesday that it intends to replace President Trump's private lawyers to defend him in a defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll.

Why it matters: It's highly unusual for the DOJ to intervene in such cases. The department said in its notice that it intervened because Trump was "acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States" when he said last year that Carroll was "totally lying" about claims that he raped her in the mid-1990s.

What they're saying: Trump "knows that I told the truth," Carroll said in an emailed statement, noting that when she said he sexually assaulted her and he "knows that he was lying when he said that he had never met me before and that I 'wasn’t his type.'"

  • "Today's actions demonstrate that Trump will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government, to block discovery from going forward in my case before the upcoming election to try to prevent a jury from ever deciding which one of us is lying," she added. 
  • The White House said in a statement emailed to Axios that Carroll "was trying to sell a book" when she sued the president for defamation "for denying her baseless claims" and that the DOJ's action was warranted because of a law called the Federal Tort Claims Act.
"The Department's action adheres to the plain language and intent of the Statute which the courts have confirmed applies when elected officials, such as members of Congress, respond to press inquiries including with respect to personal matters."

Read the notice via DocumentCloud:

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