Justice Department calls for Trump defense in rape accuser libel lawsuit

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In this photo from Wednesday March 4, 2020, E. Jean Carroll speaks with reporters outside a New York courthouse.

The Associated Press

The Justice Department is asking to support President Donald Trump’s defense in a libel lawsuit against a writer who accused him of rape, and federal lawyers on Tuesday asked a court to authorize a ruling that could put the American people on the hook for the money she could be rewarded with.

After New York State courts rejected Trump’s request to delay the prosecution of E. Jean Carroll, Department of Justice attorneys filed court documents to send the case back to Federal Court and to replace Trump with the United States as the defendant. This means that the federal government, rather than Trump himself, could have to pay damages if necessary.

The decision to intervene is in line with that of a Justice Department that has consistently advanced a broad view of the executive branch and has taken steps to shield Trump from legal exposure, including arguing that steps taken to stifle the The investigation into Russia fell within the scope. of its constitutional authorities and were therefore admissible.

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It also comes amid concerns that Attorney General William Barr has gone out of his way to intervene in other court cases involving Trump or his allies. Barr has tried to reduce the length of jail time his office was seeking for Trump ally Roger Stone following a criminal trial where he was convicted. (Stone’s sentence was later commuted by Trump.) Barr’s Justice Department acted to dismiss his own case against former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan called the ministry’s argument “shocking.”

“It offends me as a lawyer and offends me even more as a citizen,” she said in a statement.

Carroll said the developments illustrated “that Trump will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government,” to try to stop the case.

And in a tweet to Trump, Carroll wrote, “Sir, my lawyer Robbie Kaplan and I are ready! The same goes for all women who have ever been silenced! The same goes for all American citizens who have been trampled on by Bill Barr and the DOJ! BRING IT! “

The filing complicates, at least for now, Carroll’s efforts to obtain a DNA sample from the president as potential evidence and have him answer questions under oath.

Justice Department attorneys say Trump was ‘acting within his office’ when he denied Carroll’s allegations made last year that he raped her at a luxury department store in New York. York in the mid-1990s. She says her comments – including that she was “totally lying” to sell a memoir – tarnished her character and damaged her career.

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“Many courts have recognized that elected officials act within the scope of their function or employment when speaking to the press, including with regard to personal matters,” the lawyers wrote.

It will be up to a federal judge to decide whether to remand the case to federal state court and allow the United States to become the defendant.

Carroll attempts to obtain a DNA sample from Trump to see if it matches the as yet unidentified male genetic material found on a dress she says she was wearing in the alleged attack that she did not don until ‘at a photoshoot last year.

His action seeks damages and a retraction of Trump’s statements.

The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly.

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