department of justice
October 19, 2020

Department of Justice lawyers argued on Monday that President Trump should not be personally sued for denying a rape accusation because he refuted the allegation while acting in his official capacity as president, The New York Times reports.

In June 2019, writer E. Jean Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a department store in the 1990s. He publicly rejected this claim and accused her of lying to sell her new book; in return, Carroll filed a defamation suit against him. Last month, Attorney General William Barr intervened in the lawsuit, a highly unusual move, seeing as how the alleged incident took place years before Trump became president.

The government lawyers argued on Monday that Trump didn't slander Carroll and his denial was an official act because he "addressed matters relating to his fitness for office as part of an official White House response to press inquiries. Given the president's position in our constitutional structure, his role in communicating with the public is especially significant."

Earlier this month, Carroll's lawyers filed court papers trying to block the Department of Justice from taking over Trump's case, saying "there is not a single person in the United States — not the president and not anyone else — whose job description includes slandering women they sexually assaulted." Catherine Garcia

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