US Justice dept seeks to defend Trump defamation case

US Justice dept seeks to defend Trump defamation case
E. Jean Carroll at an event in 2015. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: The US Justice Department has taken legal action to defend President Donald Trump in a defamation case from a woman who accuses him of raping her.

Under a court filing, the department is moving to take over the case and replace the president’s private lawyers.

In a lawsuit, columnist E Jean Carroll accuses Mr Trump of assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.

She argues in the lawsuit that the president defamed her when he denied her claim by saying she “wasn’t his type”.

The President’s critics say that during his presidency he has compromised the US justice department, which is meant to operate independently of the White House.

Mr Trump has until now been represented in the case, which was filed in New York state court in November 2019, by his personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz.

The US Department of Justice says its lawyers argued in Tuesday’s court filing that Mr Trump can be defended by government attorneys because he was serving in his capacity as president when he denied Ms Carroll’s allegation.

The filing says: “President Trump was acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States at the time of the incidents out of which the Plaintiff’s defamation claim arose.”

It seeks to elevate the case to a federal court from a state court.

The government lawyers presented the Federal Tort Claims Act, which offers US government employees a degree of immunity from being sued.

Steve Vladeck, a University of Texas law school professor, told that such an intervention by the justice department was highly unusual.

He said the court filing could effectively kill the case because the federal government cannot be sued for defamation.

President Trump is currently in the midst of a campaign for re-election against Democratic challenger Joe Biden in November.

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