A federal judge ruled Tuesday that the Department of Justice cannot represent President Donald Trump in the defamation lawsuit brought against him by magazine writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a department store in the mid-’90s. The defamation suit was brought after Trump made public comments about her following the accusation.
“The President of the United States is not an ‘employee of the Government’ within the meaning of the relevant statutes,” wrote Judge Lewis Caplan in the decision, reviewed by TheWrap. “Even if he were such an ‘employee,’ President Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment. Accordingly, the motion to substitute the United States in place of President Trump is denied.”
In a motion filed in September, the Justice Department argued that government attorneys could defend Trump because he was “acting within the scope of his office or employment” at the time when he denied knowing Carroll or having assaulted her because she wasn’t his “type” — comments that Carroll has contended in her lawsuit were defamatory.
Carroll and her legal team responded to Caplan’s ruling Tuesday.
Carroll said in a statement, “When I spoke out about what Donald Trump did to me in a department store dressing room, I was speaking out against an individual. When Donald Trump called me a liar and denied that he had ever met me, he was not speaking on behalf of the United States. I am happy that Judge Kaplan recognized these basic truths. As the Judge recognized today, the question whether President Trump raped me twenty years ago in a department store is at ‘the heart’ of this lawsuit. We can finally return to answering that question, and getting the truth out.”
Her representation, Roberta Kaplan, said her lawyers are “very pleased” with the ruling.
“We look forward to moving forward with E. Jean Carroll‘s defamation case against Donald Trump in his personal capacity in federal court,” she added.