Judge denies DOJ effort to end E. Jean Carroll defamation suit against Trump
Posted October 27, 2020 9:31 a.m. EDT
Updated October 27, 2020 11:18 a.m. EDT
CNN — A federal judge on Tuesday denied the Justice Department's effort to effectively end a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump brought by a longtime magazine columnist who has alleged he raped her in a luxury department store dressing room, paving the way for the case to proceed.
The DOJ had sought to intervene in the case and substitute itself as defendant in the lawsuit filed by E. Jean Carroll, a move that likely would have curbed the proceedings, since the federal government can't be sued for defamation.
Trump has denied Carroll's allegations, telling reporters, "She's not my type," and alleging Carroll lied to boost her book sales.
In a 61-page opinion, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan ruled that Trump "is not an 'employee of the Government,' as Congress defined that term," and therefore the lawsuit isn't, as the Justice Department argued, against the United States.
That conclusion allows for Trump to be sued personally for defamation in the matter. The Justice Department hasn't yet indicated whether it will appeal the ruling.
Kaplan also rejected the Justice Department's argument that Trump's statements regarding Carroll were made within the scope of his employment, writing, "while commenting on the operation of government is part of the regular business of the United States, commenting on sexual assault allegations unrelated to the operation of government is not."
Carroll's lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said Tuesday: "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."
The case is now set to proceed in federal court. Carroll had originally filed her case in New York state court, and after Trump challenged it, a trial court judge ruled in August that the lawsuit could proceed, allowing Carroll's attorneys to move forward in their efforts to obtain a DNA sample from Trump and take his deposition under oath.
Shortly thereafter, the Justice Department filed to replace Trump as the defendant.
This story is breaking and will be updated.