The Department of Justice (DOJ) has determined that Donald Trump was not acting within the scope of his office as president when he made statements included in the second E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit, leaving the former president to defend himself in the case.

Carroll is seeking additional money damages from the former president after a jury ruled in May that Trump was civilly liable on charges related to sexually assaulting a former magazine columnist in the mid-1990s. Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a department store. of New York City and sued him for defamation after he accused Carroll of lying about the encounter.

The second defamation lawsuit filed in 2019 focuses on statements Trump made while still in the White House, giving the former president the chance to win immunity under the Westfall Act. The law grants federal employees legal immunity from being sued if the employee acted within the scope of their job. The DOJ previously requested to represent Trump in Carroll’s lawsuit, asserting that the former president was “acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States.”

DOJ reverses course in Trump libel case
Former President Donald Trump waits to be introduced at an event on June 25, 2023 in Novi, Michigan. Trump will no longer be entitled to immunity protections in his second defamation lawsuit filed by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll.
Scott Olson/Getty

On Tuesday, however, the DOJ reversed its decision, writing in a court file that the department “has determined that it lacks adequate evidence to conclude” that Trump was motivated by his job to serve as president when he denied sexually assaulting Carroll.

“Although the statements themselves were made in a work context, the allegations that prompted the statements related to a purely personal incident: an alleged sexual assault that occurred decades before Mr. Trump’s presidency,” the letter read, which it was signed by the principal deputy. Assistant Attorney General Brian Boynton. “That sexual assault was obviously not work related.”

The Justice Department noted that Trump’s denial of Carroll’s allegations “continued after the former president left office,” pointing to statements the former president made during a CNN town hall appearance in May that Carroll added to the complaint. last month.

“The subsequent statements are substantially similar to the three June 2019 statements at issue in this action, and because he was no longer the President when he made the subsequent statements, Mr. Trump could not have been motivated by any interest in serving to the United States. Government,” the department wrote.

The Justice Department also pointed to the earlier ruling in Carroll’s first civil lawsuit that found Trump liable for sexual assault as supporting evidence that the former president “was motivated by a ‘personal complaint’ stemming from events that occurred many years before.” of his presidency.

news week reached out to Trump’s press team via email Monday night for comment.

Carroll was previously awarded $5 million in damages after his court victory in May, but is now seeking an additional $10 million from Trump. Yet the former president has maintained, even after a jury found him responsible for abusing Carroll, that he “never met her” and that the allegations are lies.

During his controversial appearance at CNN’s town hall event earlier this year, which occurred the night after the verdict in Carroll’s first lawsuit was reached, Trump referred to the rape allegations as “hanky panky” and joked with applause and laughter. pro-Trump crowd in attendance.

“What kind of woman meets someone, brings them up, and within minutes you’re playing hanky panky in a dressing room?” Trump said during the town hall.

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, previously said she was “a little stunned” by the remarks Trump made during the live event, but added that it probably wasn’t “the smartest thing to do.”

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