DOJ files appeal in E. Jean Carroll lawsuit against President Trump

robertcicchetti/iStockBy AARON KATERSKY, ABC News

(WASHINGTON) — The Justice Department filed a notice of appeal Wednesday as it seeks to intervene in the defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll.

Last month, a federal judge in New York rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to substitute for Trump as the defendant in a suit that claimed he defamed Carroll when he accused her of lying about an alleged rape in a department store dressing room.

The DOJ had argued that Trump made his allegedly defamatory denials of Carroll’s rape accusations while acting in his official capacity as president.

“The president of the United States is not an ’employee of the government’ within the meaning of the relevant statutes,” Judge Kaplan wrote in his ruling last month. “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.”

“We are not at all surprised that the current Department of Justice, which filed its motion to intervene in E Jean Carroll’s case at the request of the White House, is appealing Judge Kaplan’s decision. From the very start of this case, Donald Trump’s number one goal has been to avoid discovery and cause delay. It remains to be seen whether the new Attorney General will agree that Trump was acting within the scope of his employment as President when he defamed our client. In any event, we are confident that the Second Circuit will affirm the District Court’s comprehensive and well-reasoned opinion,” Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney with no relation to Judge Kaplan, told ABC News in a statement.

The Justice Department will appeal to the 2nd Circuit.

Carroll sued Trump in 2019, accusing him of defaming her with his denials.

In the mid-1990s Carroll said she and Trump were in the lingerie department, where, according to the complaint, Trump insisted that she try on a bodysuit. Carroll alleged that what she first perceived as playful banter took a dark turn when Trump closed the door of a dressing room, pushed her against a wall and began kissing her without her consent. She then claimed he pressed her against the wall once more, pulled down her tights and forcibly raped her for several minutes until she managed to push him off and flee the store.

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