Donald Trump appeal says government should defend E Jean Carroll lawsuit

The US justice department has said Donald Trump should not be forced to defend himself against a defamation lawsuit by the author E Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her, and that the government itself should be substituted as the defendant.

In a filing with the 2nd US circuit court of appeals in Manhattan, the department said Trump qualified as a typical “employee of the government” entitled to immunity under federal law from Carroll’s claims, and was also shielded because he spoke about her in his capacity as president.

The law “provides a broad grant of immunity” to Trump, the justice department said, echoing arguments the president has made in other litigation.

Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, sued Trump in November 2019 after he denied having raped her in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump said Carroll made up the story to sell a new book, adding: “She’s not my type.”

A lawyer for Carroll had no immediate comment, having yet to review the filing.
Trump is appealing against US District Judge Lewis Kaplan’s refusal on 27 October to drop Trump from the case. A reversal would likely doom Carroll’s defamation claim.

It is unclear whether the justice department will pursue the case on Trump’s behalf after the inauguration on 20 January of Joe Biden, the Democrat who defeated Trump, a Republican, in the November presidential election.

Trump also faces other legal threats after leaving office, including criminal and civil probes in New York into his business dealings.

Carroll has said she would wait until after the appeal to seek a deposition from Trump and to collect a DNA sample to compare against a dress she wore at the time of the alleged rape.

Trump has denied the claims of several women who have accused him of sexual misconduct.