Justice Dept. Intervenes To Take Over Trump’s Defense In Defamation Lawsuit

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E. Jean Carroll, right, talks to reporters outside a courthouse in New York in March. As part of her defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, Carroll is seeking a DNA sample from him in an attempt to prove he raped her in the 1990s, which Trump denies.

Seth Wenig/AP

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Seth Wenig/AP

In an unusual five-page filing in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, the Justice Dept. argued that Trump’s remarks were made in the performance of his official duties as president and that therefore government attorneys should assume Trump’s defense from his private lawyers.

The filing asked the court to designate the United States, rather than Trump, as the defendant in Carroll’s defamation suit and to move the case from state to federal court. Federal officials are generally immune from charges of defamation. If the DoJ’s filing is successful it would effectively bring Carroll’s case to an end.

Carroll immediately condemned the legal maneuver, writing in a series of tweets, «TRUMP HURLS BILL BARR AT ME.»


Just when @realDonaldTrump is required to produce documents and DNA in discovery, he sics the DOJ on us.


My attorney, @kaplanrobbie, and I are happy to TAKE THEM ALL ON! @realDonaldTrump https://t.co/rAmKnqpo5s

— E. Jean Carroll (@ejeancarroll) September 8, 2020

Addressing the president, Carroll said she is «ready. So is every woman who has ever been silenced!



Sir, I and my attorney Robbie Kaplan, are ready! So is every woman who has ever been silenced! So is every American citizen who has been trampled by Bill Barr and the DOJ!

BRING IT!@kaplanrobbie @JoshuaMatz8https://t.co/ebwkZJQTyD

— E. Jean Carroll (@ejeancarroll) September 8, 2020

Robbie Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney, said in a statement that the Justice Dept.’s argument is «shocking.»

«It offends me as a lawyer, and offends me even more as a citizen,» Kaplan wrote.

Carroll’s lawsuit had reached a critical stage in state court. Last month a judge rejected the president’s request to temporarily halt the proceedings, ruling the case could move forward. Carroll has asked the judge to order Trump to provide a DNA sample as part of pre-trial discovery. Trump may also be required to sit for a deposition.

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