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DOJ will not defend Trump as immune in E. Jean Carroll lawsuit

A jury in May held Trump responsible for battery and defamation in a civil trial Carroll brought against him.

Published: July 11, 2023 5:55pm

The Department of Justice will not defend former President Donald Trump as immune with respect to defamation claims from writer E. Jean Carroll.

The DOJ announced that it would not longer argue Trump's immunity on Tuesday, after previously certifying that Trump made allegedly defamatory statements denouncing Carroll's claims of sexual assault while in his official capacity as president, The Hill reported.

The agency "has determined that it lacks adequate evidence to conclude that the former President was sufficiently actuated by a purpose to serve the United States Government to support a determination that he was acting within the scope of his employment when he denied sexually assaulting Ms. Carroll and made the other statements regarding Ms. Carroll that she has challenged in this action," it announced.

Tuesday's announcement represents a reversal of the DOJ's past position, which supported Trump's immunity claims.

A jury in May held Trump responsible for battery and defamation in a civil trial Carroll brought against him. She had claimed that Trump raped her in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room sometime in the 1990s. The jury determined that Trump's conduct did not amount to rape, but sexual abuse, and also found that Trump defamed Carroll by denying her story through public comments after he left the presidency. That suit did not face immunity questions given the timeframe of Trump's statements for which Carroll claimed defamation.

The suit was separate from Carroll's initial 2019 defamation case, which stems from comments Trump made denying the story while in office. At issue was the matter of Trump's immunity, given he made the statements while president. The DOJ announcement pertains to that case.

U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan in late June rejected Trump's immunity argument in the suit, contending that his denials of Carroll's claims had no bearing on his official duties.

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

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