President Joe Biden’s Justice Department wants to defend Donald Trump against a defamation lawsuit by an American columnist who says the ex-president raped her.
The bizarre twist in the case brought by E. Jean Carroll was revealed in a document filed by Justice Department lawyers to an appeals court in New York on Monday.
The government’s lawyers said Trump’s June 2019 denial of Carroll’s allegation, in which he said he’d never met her and that she was “not my type,” was “crude and disrespectful.”
But they added that New York Judge Lewis Kaplan had been “erroneous” to rule in October 2020 that Trump’s alleged defamatory statements did not fall within his official business as president.
The department, now headed by Merrick Garland, stressed that Trump’s comments, made in an interview, were within the scope of his duties.
It added that he was a federal government “employee” and therefore eligible to be defended by the department.
Carroll, 77, alleges that Trump sexually assaulted her in the changing room at the luxury Bergdorf Goodman department store on Fifth Avenue in New York in the mid-1990s.
She sued the Republican billionaire in November 2019 in New York state, accusing him of defamation for saying she was “totally lying” about the assault.
Carroll said in a statement she was “angry” and “offended” by the department’s move, adding she was confident an appeals court would uphold Judge Kaplan’s ruling.