Donald Trump’s Justice Department is seeking to replace his private attorneys in order to defend him against a defamation lawsuit from E Jean Carroll, who has accused the president of raping her.
In court filings with the Southern District of New York on Tuesday to move the case from state court into federal court, the Justice Department invoked the Federal Torts Claim Act to argue the president’s immunity in the case, an “unprecedented” manoeuvre to block the lawsuit in the weeks leading up to Election Day, Ms Carroll said.
The president, who has denied the allegations, “was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the plaintiff’s claim arose,” the government argued.
In a statement on social media, Ms Carroll said: "Sir, I and my attorney Robbie Kaplan, are ready! So is every woman who has ever been silenced! So is every American citizen who has been trampled by Bill Barr and the DOJ! BRING IT!
She pledged to “take them all on".
Ms Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said that the president’s effort “to wield the power of the US government to evade responsibility for his private misconduct is without precedent.”
The move “shows even more starkly how far he is willing to go to prevent the truth from coming out,” she said.
The motion follows New York court ruling that rejected the president’s argument that he is immune from private lawsuits and could see him deposed and liable to produce a DNA sample.
Ms Carroll sued the president in November claiming that he lied after denying that he had ever met her, though he has been photographed with her.
“Realising that there was no valid basis to appeal that decision in New York courts, on the very day that he would have been required to appeal, Trump instead enlisted the US Department of Justice,” Mr Kaplan said. “Even in today’s world, that argument is shocking.”
Ms Carroll wrote in a recently published memoir that Mr Trump had sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark and Justice Department officials argued that the president was acting in his capacity as president when he called Ms Carroll a liar.
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