Judge rejects Trump’s offer to dismiss E. John Carroll

A federal judge ruled Thursday against former President Donald Trump in his bid to dismiss writer E. Jean Carroll’s defamation charges against him on the grounds of “presidential immunity.”

In court filings, Trump’s lawyers had claimed he could not be held responsible for calling Carroll an opportunistic liar in 2019, in part because he did so while performing his presidential duties.

“Mr. Trump argues that he is entitled to absolute presidential immunity because he “made the three allegedly defamatory statements in direct response to plaintiff’s allegations which impugned his personality and, in turn, threatened his ability to govern the nation effectively”, “Judge Lewis of the United States District Court. Kaplan wrote in a 46-page decision.

But, the judge wrote, Trump’s response was exaggerated, and presidential immunity is “not a ‘no liability for damages’ card.”

Carroll is suing Trump in federal court in New York, alleging he defamed her after she went public with her allegation that Trump raped her in the dressing room of a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. .

“Mr. Trump did not simply deny Ms. Carroll’s accusation of sexual assault,” Kaplan wrote. “Instead, he accused Ms Carroll of lying that he sexually assaulted her in order to increase sales of her book, gain publicity and/or further a political agenda. “

“Even assuming that the president’s decision to publicly deny an accusation of personal misconduct falls within the outer perimeter of his official duties, it does not follow that the president’s own personal attacks on his accuser also fall within that boundary,” he said. he added.

“Mr. Trump identifies no connection between the allegedly defamatory content of his statements – that Ms. Carroll fabricated her sexual assault accusation and did so for financial and personal gain – to any official responsibility of the President. The Court neither can think of any possible connection,” Kaplan wrote.

The judge also said Trump waited too long to raise the immunity defence, noting that his lawyers had provided “no explanation” for the “three-year delay” in raising the immunity defence.

Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, who is not related to the judge, welcomed Thursday’s ruling.

“Judge Kaplan’s denial of summary judgment confirms that once again Donald Trump’s purported defenses to E. Jean Carroll’s defamation claims do not work,” and it “removes one more hurdle in the trial of the January 15” in the case, Kaplan said in a statement.

Trump attorney Alina Habba said, “We disagree with the court’s decision and will take appropriate action to preserve all viable defenses.”

The defamation case was the first Carroll has filed against Trump, but will be the second to go to trial.

In May, a jury found Trump responsible for sexually abusing Carroll and then defaming her in comments he made after leaving office. The jury awarded Carroll $5 million in damages, a verdict Trump is appealing.

This case went to trial first since the pending case related to appeals on matters relating to the presidency.

Carroll has since amended his original lawsuit to add new defamation allegations stemming from Trump’s comments following the $5 million verdict, including calling Carroll’s allegations a “hoax” and calling it a “wacky job.” .

Trump filed a counterclaim against Carroll on Wednesday, in part for continuing to characterize the alleged incident as “rape,” since the jury in May found that Carroll had failed to prove by a “preponderance of the evidence” that Trump had raped her.

The jury instead found Trump liable for grievous bodily harm after deciding that Carroll had proven Trump sexually assaulted her.

This article originally appeared on NBCNews.com

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