A federal judge on Tuesday, October 27, blocked the Justice Department from ending a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, where E. Jean Carroll — a journalist and advise columnist — claims the former reality star raped her in a department store in the ’90s.
Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of Federal District Court in Manhattan said the Justice Department cannot defend the President, since he is not a federal employee. As a result, Carroll is able to proceed with her lawsuit against Trump as a private citizen.
In the lawsuit, Carroll claims he harmed her reputation when he denied anything happened last year and called her a liar. After she spoke about the allegations, Trump, 74, denied the incident ever occurred, telling reporters, “There were numerous cases where women were paid money to say bad things about me.” In an interview with The Hill, Trump bluntly said, “No. 1, she’s not my type.”
Carroll sued Trump last year in state court in New York for defamation, accusing him of “malicious libel.”
Last month, the Justice Department argued that under the Federal Tort Claims Act, Trump was acting within the scope of his official duties as President when he denied Carroll’s allegations. The Justice Department argued that the federal government should intervene and be the defendant in the case.
However, Judge Kaplan rejected that request. “Accepting (the argument) would mean that a president is free (to) defame anyone who criticizes his conduct or impugns his character — without adverse consequences to that president and no matter what injury he inflects in the person defamed,” Kaplan wrote in an order, which was filed on Tuesday.
“Indeed, the same would be true for many government officials, who plausibly could argue that criticism of their behavior or character, even if completely unrelated to their government employment, would undermine their ability to perform effectively while in office,” the statement continued.
“We are very pleased that the federal court interpreted the plain text of Federal Tort Claims Act as not covering President Trump’s false statements about our client, E. Jean Carroll,” Roberta Kaplan, founding partner at Kaplan Hecker & Fink LLP and counselor for Carroll said in a statement, obtained by OK!. “The simple truth is that President Trump defamed our client because she was brave enough to reveal that he had sexually assaulted her, and that brutal, personal attack cannot be attributed to the Office of the President.”
“Judge Kaplan’s words speak for themselves. As he observed: ‘A comment about government action, public policy, or even an election is categorically different than a comment about an alleged sexual assault that took place roughly twenty years before the president took office,” she added. “In response to the Trump DOJ’s startling claim that virtually anything that Donald Trump says is within his scope of employment as president, the Court explained that ‘[a]ccepting [that position] would mean that a president is free to defame anyone who criticizes his conduct or impugns his character — without adverse consequences to that president and no matter what injury he inflicts on the person defamed.’ We look forward to moving forward with E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case against Donald Trump in his personal capacity in federal court.”
“When I spoke out about what Donald Trump did to me in a department store dressing room, I was speaking out against an individual,” Carroll said in a statement obtained by OK!. “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. As the Judge recognized today, the question whether President Trump raped me twenty years ago in a department store is at ‘the heart’ of this lawsuit. We can finally return to answering that question, and getting the truth out.”
Carroll also took to Twitter, where she spoke about her big win. “Overjoyed! The DOJ and @realDonaldTrump TOGETHER, can’t stop a woman who wants the world to know the truth! And the two greatest attorneys in America — @kaplanrobbie and @JoshuaMatz8 — made it happen!! This win is for every woman in the country!”
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