Court Battles

Trump accuser E. Jean Carroll's lawyers urge DOJ not to defend case

Lawyers for E. Jean Carroll, who has accused former President Trump of rape, said the Department of Justice (DOJ) was wrong to seek to defend the former president in their client's suit against him.

Carroll has sued Trump for defamation after he denied her rape claim, though the Justice Department during the previous administration sought to defend the then-president instead of his private attorneys.

A federal district judge in October denied the DOJ's bid to defend Trump, though the agency appealed that ruling in the waning days of the Trump administration.

Carroll's lawyers said the DOJ's effort was "wrong" in a Friday filing and that Trump's statement that Carroll was "totally lying" was made in his personal - rather than presidential - capacity.

"That rule is both wrong and dangerous," Carroll's lawyers said in the filing pressing a federal appeals court to reject the Justice Department's argument. "It reflects a disturbing belief that federal officials should have free rein to destroy the reputations and livelihoods of any perceived critic - no matter how unrelated to the business of governance." 

Carroll first alleged in 2019 that Trump had raped her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. Her suit against the former president claims he defamed her when he denied her allegation.

She said in a statement Friday that she hopes the appeals court rules in her favor and maintains the lower court's decision preventing the DOJ from defending Trump. 

"This is offensive to me," she said of Trump's efforts to have the DOJ defend him. "It is offensive to sexual assault victims everywhere. I hope that it is offensive to the Justice Department under President Biden. I am confident that the Second Circuit will make it clear that no president, including Donald Trump, can get away scot free with maliciously defaming a woman he sexually assaulted."

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