The US Justice Department argued in a court filing on Monday that it should continue defending Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by columnist E Jean Carroll who accused the former president of rape.
Although Department Of Justice (DOJ) is under the Joe Biden administration now, it argued that Mr Trump was acting “within the scope of employment” as president when he accused Ms Carroll of lying about her allegation of rape in 2019, during his presidency.
Asserting that the president is an “employee of the government,” Justice Department lawyers wrote in a brief: “Then-President Trump’s response to Ms Carroll’s serious allegations of sexual assault included statements that questioned her credibility in terms that were crude and disrespectful.”
“But this case does not concern whether Mr Trump’s response was appropriate. Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms Carroll’s allegations,” the brief said.
Treating Mr Trump as a federal employee will grant him some level of immunity for his actions as per the law.
However, before getting to the White House, Mr Biden, during his campaign, had criticised Mr Trump for using his executive powers to defend himself in this defamation case. He also said he wanted to restore the Justice Department’s traditional independence from the White House — a stand that got support from his picks for DOJ.
But the latest filing is in continuation with the earlier stance when DOJ started the legal efforts under the Trump administration.
Ms Carroll’s lawsuit alleges Mr Trump defamed her when he denied raping her, said she wasn’t his type and claimed she had made the allegation to boost sales of her new book, according to the lawsuit.
Ms Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement on Monday night: “The DOJ’s position is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong, since it would give federal officials free license to cover up private sexual misconduct by publicly brutalising any woman who has the courage to come forward.”
In a statement, Ms Carroll said: “As women across the country are standing up and holding men accountable for assault — the DOJ is trying to stop me from having that same right. I am angry! I am offended!”
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies