Attorneys for author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s, say the government’s move only evidences the president’s guilt.
The Justice Department will intervene in a defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump.
According to The New York Times¸ the lawsuit against President Trump was filed by the author E. Jean Carroll.
Carroll has repeatedly claimed that Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a Manhattan department store some time in the 1990s. Her accusations have prompted the president to call her a liar, with Trump saying that he has either never met Carroll or cannot recall meeting her.
And because Trump has defended himself against Carroll’s accusations while in office, the Justice Department says he was acting in his official capacity as President of the United States—and is therefore entitled to a taxpayer-funded defense, led by Justice Department attorneys.
Carroll and her legal team were quick to decry the Justice Department’s request to represent the President.
“Today’s actions demonstrate that Trump will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government, to block discovery from going forward in my case before the upcoming election to try to prevent a jury from ever deciding which one of us is lying,” Carroll said in a Tuesday statement.
In article detailing the Justice Department’s petition to intervene on President Trump’s behalf, the New York Times notes that federal law does grant public officials immunity from most defamation lawsuits.
That law, called the Westfall Act, protects federal employees from common tort claims, such as negligence or defamation. Its application is limited to the protection of conduct performed as part of an official’s regular duties.
However, that statute has rarely—if ever—been used to protect a sitting president, “especially for actions taken” prior to inauguration.
Bloomberg Law adds that Carroll’s lawsuit is but one of many that have been filed against Trump.
In fact, Bloomberg Law writes, Trump’s re-election campaign is facing a “cash crunch” because it has spent a large amount of money defending the president from lawsuits.
Trump’s attorney, Marc Kasowitz—who is currently the president’s legal counsel on the Carroll case—has purportedly received close to $1 million in re-election money.
If the federal government’s request is approved, Kasowitz’s counsel will either be substituted or supplemented by Justice Department attorneys. Unlike Kasowitz, their endeavors and salaries will not be funded by Trump’s campaign purse but taxpayer dollars.
Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, told the Times that the case raises troubling questions.
“The question is: is it really within the scope of the law for government lawyers to defend someone accused of lying about a rape when he wasn’t even in office yet?” Vladeck asked.
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said the Justice Department’s unusual maneuver evidences her client’s narrative.
“Trump’s effort to wield the power of the U.S. government to evade responsibility for his private misconduct is without precedent, and shows even more starkly how far he is willing to go to prevent the truth from coming out,” Kaplan said.