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The Justice Department intervenes in the Trump and E. Jean Carroll case



E. Jean Carroll visits SiriusXM Studios in New York with John Fugelsang on July 11, 2019.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

Several lawyers on Wednesday called on the U.S. Department of Justice’s last minute efforts to act as attorneys for President Donald Trump in a civil case accusing him of defaming a writer who alleged Trump raped her years ago.

“The DOJ shouldn̵

7;t act as the president’s personal in-house attorney, especially on the taxpayer’s penny,” said Joseph Tacopina, a New York lawyer.

“Trump naming an alleged rape victim … a liar is not an act in his official capacity,” Tacopina said.

“Although ad hominem attacks on members of the regular public are a regular occurrence in the Oval Office these days, Article II of the Constitution does not include Chief Mudslinger’s role in the functions of the presidency.”

In a highly unusual move, the Justice Department filed a lawsuit Tuesday to transfer E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against Trump, currently under trial in New York State Court, to federal court in Manhattan.

The Justice Department, which moved two months before the US presidential election, is also trying to replace Trump’s civil attorney as the presidential attorney in the case.

The Justice Department said it had confirmed that Trump “was acting in the course of his office or employment at the time of the incident that made the allegation,” which meant when Trump said last year that Carroll lied about being raped him in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

“The United States will move to replace President Trump in this lawsuit for all claims for which the [Federal Tort Claims Act] offers the exclusive remedy, “the DOJ said in its filing with federal court.

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan noted in a statement that the DOJ’s move came one month after a state court judge rejected Trump’s allegation that “he was against a private lawsuit for defamatory statements made about sexual assault in the 1990s Years is immune “.

“As a result of this decision, Trump soon had to produce documents, provide a DNA sample and lobby for a deposit,” said Kaplan. She accused Trump of hiring the Justice Department to file his lawsuit claiming he was acting in his official capacity when he denied the rape suit.

“Even in today’s world, that argument is shocking,” said Kaplan.

Gerald Lefcourt, another senior New York attorney, described the DOJ’s action as “virtually unknown”.

“Just because you’re president, if you beat a police officer or rape a woman, it doesn’t mean the Justice Department is defending you,” Lefcourt said. “The DOJ is not your lawyer.”

Lefcourt said the DOJ’s move was part of a “pattern for Trump’s legal work” by US Attorney General William Barr.

Lefcourt pointed to the sudden and astounding reversal of the DOJ’s position in the criminal case of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his conversations with a Russian diplomat.

After pressing last spring to convict Flynn and counter his efforts to dismiss the case, the DOJ attempted to shut down prosecutions. Trump had long criticized the case against Flynn.

“Now [Barr’s] go to court to help Trump in his personal affairs, such as this defamation case, “said Lefcourt, referring to the Carroll lawsuit.

“It does them [the DOJ] look ridiculous. “

Lefcourt said he doesn’t believe the DOJ tried on its own initiative to intervene in the case 10 months after Carroll sued Trump.

“I’m sure Trump asked Barr to ‘find a way to get this off my back,’ he said.

Neither the White House nor the DOJ immediately responded to CNBC when asked if Trump or the White House had asked the DOJ to intervene in Carroll’s lawsuit or to investigate whether it could intervene.

A White House official told NBC News that the DOJ’s move was “in line with previous Federal Tort Claims Act precedents.” The official said the DOJ “confirmed that the defamation lawsuit should be properly tried in federal court, with the United States as the defendant, since the president was acting in his capacity as he publicly responded to these false allegations.”

“The ministry’s actions are in line with the simple language and intent of the statute, which the courts have confirmed when elected officials such as members of Congress respond to press inquiries, including on personal matters,” the official said.

Lefcourt said that getting a federal judge to sign the removal of the case in Manhattan federal court was “not automatic at all”.

“There would be very few judges [that federal district] that would look good I think, “he said.

“If you try to get it removed from the state court, you are saying that the state is unable to provide adequate justice and justice,” Lefcourt said.

He added that there is no reason to believe that this is the case in this lawsuit.

Carroll said in her own statement about the DOJ’s action: “President Trump knows I was telling the truth when I said he sexually assaulted me in a locker room in Bergdorf Goodman.”

“He also knows he lied when he said he had never met me before and that I was ‘not his type’,” said Carroll. “”[The DOJ’s] Actions show that Trump will do everything in his power, including using the full powers of the federal government to prevent the discovery in my case before the upcoming elections, to prevent a jury from ever deciding which of us is lying. “

“But Trump underestimates me and he underestimated the American people too.”

The DOJ’s surprise move comes as Trump tries to avoid the ramifications of legal subpoenas on his personal and business financial records. This month, a federal appeals court will hear what will be Trump’s second appeal to block a subpoena from his accountants on his income tax return and other Manhattan District Attorney filings.

Also earlier this month, a New York State judge will hear arguments from Trump’s firm and son Eric Trump, who received subpoenas from Attorney General Letitia James as part of their civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization has misrepresented the value of real estate for taxes and business want to block purposes.


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