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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:

Go deeper

16 federal prosecutors to Bill Barr: No evidence of election tampering

U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty

16 assistant U.S. attorneys tasked with monitoring election misconduct urged Attorney General Bill Barr on Friday to retract a recent memo directing investigators to pursue allegations of "voting and vote tabulation irregularities” prior to the certification of election results, the Washington Post reported.

Why it matters: Barr’s move reverses longstanding Justice Department policy and critics condemned the memo for its political undertone which could fuel President Trump’s unfounded claims of widespread election fraud. Barr also faced internal criticism, as current and former DOJ officials told the Post they were concerned that he was trying to help the president cast doubt on the election outcome.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Coronavirus deaths reach 4,000 per day as hospitals remain in crisis mode — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution — Biden taps ex-FDA chief to lead Operation Warp Speed amid rollout of COVID plan — Widow of GOP congressman-elect who died of COVID-19 will run to fill his seat.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.