US can’t replace Pres. Trump in columnist’s defamation lawsuit, federal judge rules

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E. Jean Carroll, center, who says President Donald Trump raped her in the 1990s, speaks to reporters as she leaves the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse following a hearing in her defamation lawsuit against Trump, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in New York. A federal judge on Tuesday denied President Donald Trump’s request that the United States replace him as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit alleging he raped a woman in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK (NewsNation Now) — A federal judge on Tuesday denied President Donald Trump’s request that the United States replace him as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit alleging he sexually assaulted a woman in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan came after the Justice Department argued that Trump acted in his official capacity when denying columnist E. Jean Carroll’s accusations, and therefore could not be sued personally for defamation.

But the judge said Trump was not an “employee of the government” entitled to be shielded from Carroll’s claims under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

“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,” Kaplan wrote. “Accordingly, the motion to substitute the United States in place of President Trump is denied.”

Read Carroll’s full lawsuit, along with the judge’s ruling in the document below:

The Justice Department relied solely on written arguments in the dispute after its lawyer was banned from a Manhattan federal courthouse last week because he had not quarantined for two weeks after traveling to New York from a state on a list of those whose coronavirus test rates were high.

Carroll, a former longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, said in her lawsuit that in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996 she and Trump met in a chance encounter when they recognized each other at the Bergdorf Goodman store.

She said they engaged in a lighthearted chat about trying on a see-through lilac gray bodysuit when they made their way to a dressing room, where she said Trump pushed her against a wall and raped her.

Trump said Carroll was “totally lying” to sell a memoir and that he’d never met her, though a 1987 photo showed them and their then-spouses at a social event. He said the photo captured a moment when he was standing in a line.

Carroll, who wants unspecified damages and a retraction of Trump’s statements, also seeks a DNA sample from Trump to see whether it matches as-yet-unidentified male genetic material found on a dress that she says she was wearing during the alleged attack.

The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Carroll’s lawyers did not immediately respond to similar requests.

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