Biden government seeks to defend Donald Trump in rape denial lawsuit

Paola Ditto
Giugno 8, 2021

Donald Trump can not be held personally liable for "crude" and "disrespectful" remarks he made while president about a woman who accused him of rape, Justice Department lawyers said Monday in arguing for him to be replaced by the United States as defendant in a defamation lawsuit.

Late Monday, Justice Department lawyers submitted a filing to a federal appeals court adopting essentially the same position the department staked out while Trump was still in office - that presidents are covered by the Westfall Act of 1988, which protects government workers from being personally sued for actions related to their official duties.

If the appeals court agrees with DOJ that the US should be substituted for Trump as defendant in the suit, the case would be dismissed because the government can't be sued for defamation.

Trump's statements about Carroll included that she was "totally lying" to sell a memoir and that "she's not my type".

"But this case does not concern whether Mr Trump's response was appropriate".

In October, a district judge rejected the Justice Department's attempt to replace Trump as the defendant in the lawsuit.

DoJ lawyers are quoted by NBC News as stating that Mr Trump was "crude and disrespectful" in questioning Ms Carroll's credibility and that comments attacking her appearance, impugning her motives and implying that she had made false accusations "were without question unnecessary and inappropriate".

But they added that New York Judge Lewis Kaplan had been "erroneous" to rule in October 2020 that Trump's alleged defamatory statements did not fall within his official business as president.

Consequently, if a court finds Mr Trump defamed Ms Carroll, the taxpayers would foot the bill for any payout.

Ms Carroll's lawyer Roberta Kaplan said the Justice Department's actions were both legally and morally wrong.

The Justice Department's filing on Monday continues the argument made by Trump's attorney general, William Barr.

"But it is truly shocking that the current Department of Justice would allow Donald Trump to get away with lying about it, thereby depriving our client of her day in court".

Carroll said in an emailed statement, "As women across the country are standing up and holding men accountable for assault - the DOJ is trying to stop me from having that same right".

"The White House was not consulted by DOJ (Department of Justice) on the decision to file this brief or its contents", spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

Carroll sued the then-president for defamation, but the suit has been caught up in litigation since the Trump-era Justice Department attempted to step in on Trump's behalf and make the government the defendant instead of the now-former president.

"While we are not going to comment on this ongoing litigation, the American people know well that President Biden and his team have utterly different standards from their predecessors for what qualify as acceptable statements".

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