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Judge rules woman who accused Trump of rape can proceed with defamation suit

A New York State Supreme Court justice on Thursday denied a motion by President TrumpDonald John TrumpMinnesota certifies Biden victory Trump tells allies he plans to pardon Michael Flynn: report Republican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race MORE asserting absolute immunity in a defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll. 

The ruling allows the case to go forward without waiting for a decision from an appeals court on a separate, similar suit.

Carroll, a longtime advice columnist, claimed in her 2019 book “What Do We Need Men For?” that Trump sexually assaulted her in the dressing room of a Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s. 

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Carroll filed the defamation lawsuit in November after the president denied the allegations, saying he’s never met her despite there being photos of them together.

Trump’s attorneys argued that Carroll’s lawsuit should be paused until a decision is made in a similar suit brought by former “Apprentice” contestant Summer Zervos, who also alleges Trump sexually assaulted her.

Judge Verna L. Saunders ruled Thursday that Carroll’s lawsuit can move forward before a state appellate court makes a decision on Zervos’s case, where a judge will decide whether state courts should defer litigation involving a sitting president until after he steps down. 

Carroll’s lawyers argued that Trump and his legal team are actively engaged in litigation related to his campaign.

“We are now eager to move forward with discovery so that we can prove that Donald Trump defamed E. Jean Carroll when he lied about her in connection with her brave decision to tell the truth about the fact that Donald Trump had sexually assaulted her,” Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement according to The Washington Post.

Saunders cited a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which ruled the president does not have immunity from local law enforcement and congressional investigators.

The decision opens the door for Carroll’s attorneys to collect DNA samples from the president, which they hope to compare to genetic material on the dress she said she wore during the incident. Trump's team can also move forward with seeking depositions with Carroll and other possible witnesses.