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Judge rejects Trump immunity claim in second E. Jean Carrol suit

Kaplan's ruling ensures that the case will proceed to trial, which he has set for Jan. 15.

Published: June 29, 2023 7:19pm

A federal judge on Thursday rejected claims that former President Donald Trump enjoys "presidential immunity" from a lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll accusing him of defamation.

A jury found Trump liable for battery and defamation against Carroll in May, but specifically determined he had not raped her. It further awarded Carroll $5 million in damages, though Trump maintains his denial of the events and has moved to appeal the verdict.

That case is separate from Carroll's initial 2019 defamation suit, which had been held up due to the question of whether Trump enjoyed immunity from the claims as he made the statements while president. U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan determined on Thursday that the statements had no bearing on Trump's official duties as president and rejected the immunity argument, according to Politico.

At issue in the current case are 2019 statements Trump made denying her allegation. The other suit's defamation claim referred to a 2022 statement he had made also issuing a denial.

Kaplan's ruling ensures that the case will proceed to trial, which he has set for Jan. 15.

The judge previously permitted Carroll to amend the suit to include statements Trump made during a CNN town hall earlier this year, in which he again denied her claims shortly after the May jury verdict.

Trump has also sued Carroll for defamation, pointing out that the jury determined he had not raped Carroll as she claimed. She later appeared on CNN to address the verdict.

Asked about the determination that Trump had not raped her, Carroll said on the network "Well, I just immediately say in my own head, 'Oh, yes, he did. Oh yes, he did.'"

Ben Whedon is an editor and reporter for Just the News. Follow him on Twitter.

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