Oct 27, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Federal judge blocks DOJ from defending Trump in Carroll rape defamation case

E Jean Caroll in a khaki jacket standing outside

E. Jean Carroll in Warwick, New York. Photo: Eva Deitch for The Washington Post via Getty Images

A federal judge on Tuesday dismissed the Justice Department's attempted intervention on behalf of President Trump in writer E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit against him, after she accused him of raping her in a dressing room in the mid-1990s.

Catch up quick: The agency argued that Trump was "acting within the scope of his office" as president when he said in 2019 that Carroll was "lying" about her claim.

  • Trump denied the rape accusation last summer, stating that Carroll was "totally lying" and claiming they'd never met. He added that Carroll is "not my type."

What they're saying: U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan notes that the Justice Department "inserted itself into the case" after a state court rejected Trump's claim "that he could not be sued because he currently is president."

  • Kaplan writes that, if Caroll's defamation suit was treated as a case against the U.S. instead of Trump as an individual — as the DOJ has moved to reinterpret it — then "it could well be argued that this case must be dismissed" due to stipulations in the Federal Tort Claims Act.

Carroll said in a statement: “When I spoke out about what Donald Trump did to me in a department store dressing room, I was speaking out against an individual. When Donald Trump called me a liar and denied that he had ever met me, he was not speaking on behalf of the United States. I am happy that Judge Kaplan recognized these basic truths."

Read the ruling.

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