E. Jean Carroll is also planning to file a sexual battery lawsuit against the former president, who she claims raped her in a New York City department store in the 1990s.
A federal appeals court may allow the Department of Justice to shield former President Donald Trump from a defamation lawsuit filed by columnist E. Jean Carroll.
According to CNN, the question of whether Trump can be held personally accountable for defaming Carroll will be sent to an appellate court in Washington, D.C.
The Justice Department has, under both the Trump and Biden administrations, argued that the federal government should be substituted as a defendant in the lawsuit. If the appellate court grants the agency’s request, Carroll’s complaint would be effectively dismissed.
“Under the circumstances, we cannot say what the District would do in this case,” the appeals court wrote earlier this week. “Under the laws of the District, were the allegedly libelous public statements made, during his term in office, by the President of the United States, denying allegations of misconduct, with regards to events prior to that term of office, within the scope of his employment as President of the United States?”
The decision, issued by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, reverses an early trial court finding that the Justice Department could not protect Trump from the allegations.
Alina Habba, an attorney for Donald Trump, said that her client is pleased with the appellate court’s ruling.
“We are extremely pleased with the Second Circuit’s decision today in reversing and vacating the District Court’s finding in this matter,” Habba said in a statement. “This decision will protect the ability of all future Presidents to effectively govern without hindrance. We are confident that the D.C. Court of Appeals will find that our client was acting within the scope of his employment when properly repudiating Ms. Carroll’s allegations.”
As LegalReader.com has reported before, Carroll filed a lawsuit against Trump in 2019, accusing the then-president of defaming her when he dismissed her sexual assault allegations as lies.
Carroll, adds CNN, had earlier said that Trump raped her in a New York City department store in the 1990s.
Trump responded to the claims by saying that Carroll wasn’t his “type.”
Despite the ruling, Carroll’s attorney—Roberta Kaplan—pointed to the appellate court’s dissenting opinion, written by Judge Denny Chin.
In Chin’s dissent, the judge said that Trump should not be granted immunity from the lawsuit, because his conduct and alleged defamation fell outside the scope of his duties as president.
“We are confident that the D.C. Court of Appeals, where this case is now headed in certification, will agree,” Kaplan said in a statement.
Carroll has also announced plans to file a separate sexual battery lawsuit against Trump. She has asked the courts to allow both the sexual battery claim and the defamation claim to proceed to trial at the same time.