Trump seeks to halt rape accuser's lawsuit amid DOJ appeal

President TrumpDonald TrumpGraham says he hopes that Trump runs again Trump says Stacey Abrams 'might be better than existing governor' Kemp Executive privilege fight poses hurdles for Trump MORE's lawyers asked a court Thursday to pause a lawsuit from a woman who accused him of rape while they appeal a judge's order prohibiting the Department of Justice (DOJ) from representing the president in the case.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, ruled in October that the allegations against Trump in the defamation suit have nothing to do with the president's official conduct and that the case could proceed against him in his personal capacity.

E. Jean Carroll, a former magazine columnist, published her account last year of Trump sexually assaulting her in a New York City department store in the 1990s. After Trump publicly denied the allegation and accused her of being a liar, she filed a defamation suit against him.

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In a court filing submitted late Thursday, Trump's lawyers argued that the proceedings at the district court should be put on hold while they ask an appeals court to decide whether the Justice Department can represent the president. Both Trump's personal lawyers and the DOJ have appealed Kaplan's order.

“With each step forward in my lawsuit against Donald Trump, Trump’s lawyers try to drag the case three steps back," Carroll said in a statement. "More than a month ago, a federal judge told the DOJ that they couldn’t take over Trump’s defense, and Trump was soon going to have to turn over documents and give his DNA. Late yesterday, Trump tried to put this case on hold once again. I won’t be silenced, and I look forward to having my lawyers respond to Trump’s latest attempt to deny me my day in court.”

Joshua Matz, one of Carroll's attorneys, said Trump "sure seems desperate to avoid the justice system" in an emailed statement.

"In fact, President Trump is so desperate that his counsel have undertaken the kind of gamesmanship that gives lawyers a bad name. The proceedings should not be stayed in their entirety," Matz said.

Marc Kasowitz, Trump's personal attorney, did not respond to a request for comment.

—Updated at 11:57 a.m.