A federal court has ruled that the Department of Justice may not take Trump’s place as the defendant in the lawsuit involving E. Jean Carroll. Carroll sued for defamation regarding Trump’s response to her allegations that he raped her in the 1990s. The DOJ cited previous statutes that demand the United States replace a government employee in lawsuits involving actions carried out in the course of their duties. As the alleged incident occurred years before Trump became President the court ruled these statutes do not apply.
President Trump claimed he never met Carroll, much less did the incident ever occur. Trump believes that Carroll has made up the claims to help sell her book or to “carry out a political agenda.”
In a report from Fox News:
“President Trump’s comment concerned media reports about an alleged sexual assault that took place more than 20 years before he took office. Neither the media reports nor the underlying allegations have any relationship to his official duties,” U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York wrote in a Tuesday opinion.
The DOJ had argued that by denying Carroll’s allegations, Trump was making it easier for himself to govern due to the seriousness of the accusation. Kaplan said that the DOJ had waived that argument by waiting too long to make it, but even so, it was not convincing.
Before even getting into the nature and context of the president’s statements, however, Kaplan ruled that the president does not qualify as an “employee” of a “federal agency” for the purposes of the statutes that would allow the government to take his place – the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Westfall Act.
“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,” Carroll said in a statement. “I am happy that Judge Kaplan recognized these basic truths. As the judge recognized today, the question whether President Trump raped me 20 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 said.