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Justice Dept. argues Trump should get immunity from rape accuser's lawsuit

The Department of Justice (DOJ) argued in a new court filing that President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump State Department appointee arrested in connection with Capitol riot Intelligence community investigating links between lawmakers, Capitol rioters Michelle Obama slams 'partisan actions' to 'curtail access to ballot box' MORE should be granted immunity against a defamation suit brought against him by author E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her.

In a filing with the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, the DOJ argued it should be substituted in the suit as the defendant, replacing Trump, and that the president should be classified as “an employee of the government” and receive immunity from the suit under what is known as the Westfall Act.

The federal statute grants federal employees "absolute immunity" from claims that arise "in the course of their official duties." The DOJ argued the law “provides a broad grant of immunity” to Trump, repeating arguments the president has made in other suits he is fighting. The federal government has argued that Trump acted in his capacity as president when he responded to Carroll's allegations.

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Carroll first sued the president for defamation in 2019 after he denied her claims that he raped her in the 1990s, with Trump saying in an interview with The Hill in June 2019 that she made up the story and “she’s not my type.”

A federal district judge ruled against Trump’s efforts to drop the suit in October, a decision the president is appealing.

It remains to be seen if the Justice Department will continue fighting the case on Trump's behalf once he leaves office Wednesday.

Carroll is just one of several women to accuse Trump of sexual assault and misconduct. He has denied the allegations.