Ayyyeee… What’s Goodie Everyone. So I got some very hot tea and it involves the Justice Deptartment and Trump plus a court case.
The Justice Department will intervene in the defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says President Trump raped her years ago, moving the situation to federal court and signaling it wants to make the U.S. government rather than Trump himself the defendant in the case.
In filings in federal court in Manhattan, the Justice Department claims that Trump was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States” when he denied in interviews in 2019 that he had raped journalist E. Jean Carroll more than two decades ago in a New York City department store. Carroll sued Trump over that denial in November.
Justice Department lawyers claims that Trump was acting as president when he denied the allegations, a judge should “substitute the United States for President Trump as defendant.”
The maneuver removes the case from state court in New York, where a judge last month had rejected Trump’s bid for a delay and put Carroll’s team back on course to seek a DNA sample and an under oath interview from the president. It also means that Justice Department lawyers will be essentially aiding Trump’s defense, and taxpayers could be on the hook for any potential damages, if the U.S. government is allowed to stand in for Trump. Winning damages against the government, though, would be more unlikely than in a suit against Trump, as the notion of “sovereign immunity” gives the government and its employees broad protection from lawsuits.
The Justice Department had previously intervened in lawsuits in which Trump has personally sued those who are investigating him and seeking to get information on his private finances.
Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, spoke on the department’s filing. She noted that because a New York state court had rejected Trump’s bid for a delay, he was “soon going to be required to produce documents, provide a DNA sample, and sit for a deposition.”
Kaplan says “Realizing that there was no valid basis to appeal that decision in the New York courts, on the very day that he would have been required to appeal, Trump instead enlisted the U.S. Department of Justice to replace his private lawyers and argue that when he lied about sexually assaulting our client, explaining that she ‘wasn’t his type,’ he was acting in his official capacity as President of the United States,”
The department’s filings were signed off by Jeffrey Bossert Clark who is the acting attorney general in charge of the Civil Division, as well as James G. Touhey Jr., director of the torts branch, and attorney Stephen R. Terrell.
Citing the Federal Tort Claims Act, the department said that Barr has the authority under federal law to move such a case to federal court if he certifies a federal employee was acting within the scope of their job during an incident, though he had delegated that authority to Touhey.
Carroll alleged the assault for the first time in June 2019, in a published excerpt of a memoir. She said that after running into Trump at Bergdorf Goodman in late 1995 or early 1996, they chatted and shopped together before he attacked her in a dressing room.