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Lawyers: Trump can’t use job as a shield in defamation suit

October 6, 2020 Larry Neumeister and Jennifer Peltz Associated Press
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Lawyers for a woman who claims President Donald Trump raped her in a department store dressing room a quarter century ago said Monday that he can’t hurl insults at her and then cite his job as reason to remove himself as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit, forcing taxpayers to pay up if he loses.

“Only in a world gone mad could it somehow be presidential, not personal, for Trump to slander a woman who he sexually assaulted,” lawyers wrote in a Manhattan federal court filing on behalf of E. Jean Carroll, a media figure who hosted a daily “Ask E. Jean” advice show in the mid-1990s, when she now says she encountered Trump at a luxury store.

“There is not a single person in the United States — not the President and not anyone else — whose job description includes slandering women who they sexually assaulted,” the lawyers asserted.

The Justice Department last month tried to substitute the U.S. as the defendant, saying courts have recognized that elected officials “act within the scope of their office or employment when speaking with the press, including with respect to personal matters.” The move would put taxpayers on the hook for any potential payout in a lawsuit seeking damages and a retraction of the statements.

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A message was left with a spokesperson for Trump lawyer Marc Kasowitz, along with the Justice Department.

E. Jean Carroll talked to reporters outside a courthouse in New York on March 4. Photo: Seth Wenig/AP

Attorneys Roberta Kaplan and Joshua Matz, representing Carroll, asked a judge to refuse the government’s request to replace Trump as a defendant or force it to prove that defaming Carroll three times in June 2019 with a “slew of lies” was part of his job.

They wrote that the defamatory attacks included assertions that Carroll had falsely accused other men of rape, that she lied about him to advance a secret political conspiracy and sell books and that he had never met her even though they’d been photographed together. The lawyers noted that Trump also had said: “She’s not my type.”

And they said the move to substitute the U.S. as the defendant and move the case from state to federal court was part of a pattern of maneuvers designed to delay the progression of the case, including Carroll’s effort to get a DNA sample from Trump to see if it matches male genetic material on a dress she says she wore the day of the alleged attack.

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