The Justice Department replaced the president last month in the Westfall Act litigation allegedly because Trump’s rejection of the alleged attack responded as president in June 2019 to reporters’ questions.
“The attestation from the Justice Department that Trump acted in the context of his appointment as president in the defamation of Carroll is unfounded,” said Carroll’s attorney on Monday in a court case. “In the United States, there is not a single person – not the president or anyone else – whose job title includes defamation of women who sexually assaulted them,” the file said.
“If this were accepted, the Justice Department’s extreme position would distort the law and dishonor the office of president,” Carroll’s lawyers wrote on the file. The lawyers said if the judge doesn’t deny the Justice Department’s request, they will seek a hearing to determine whether Trump was acting in official duties when he allegedly defamed Carroll.
CNN has asked the Justice Department for comment. The DOJ has until October 19 to respond to Carroll’s legal argument, so it is highly unlikely that the lawsuit will be resolved or evidence obtained before election day.
Last month, Attorney General William Barr confirmed that the White House had asked the Justice Department to take over the case. The request could further delay the case or kill it altogether as the Department of Justice cannot be sued for defamation, said CNN legal analyst and professor of law at the University of Texas Steve Vladeck.
Carroll sued Trump in a state court in November 2019, accusing him of defamation when, among other things, he denied her allegations of assault in a locker room in Bergdorf Goodman, a New York department store, in the mid-1990s.
Trump’s private attorneys challenged the lawsuit, and in August a state court judge ruled that the lawsuit could continue. Carroll’s attorneys had already filed requests to obtain a DNA sample from the President to compare with the DNA of an unidentified man obtained from the dress Carroll was wearing on the day of the alleged attack. Her lawyers also said they would try to oath Trump.
On the day of the deadline for Trump to appeal the state court decision, the Justice Department filed its motion in federal court to replace the president.