BARR WANTS TO DEFEND TRUMP IN E. JEAN CARROLL DEFAMATION SUIT
The US Justice Department, in an extraordinary move on Tuesday (Wednesday, September 9, 2020 in Manila), asked to take over the defense of President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll, a woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault, Dan Berman reported for CNN.
While the alleged sexual assault occurred long before Trump became President, the Justice Department argued that it must take over because Trump's comments spurring the defamation lawsuit came while he was in office. The move -- defending Trump at taxpayer expense -- comes amid ongoing criticism that the Justice Department has acted in the President's personal interests.
Carroll, an advice columnist who for years wrote for Elle Magazine, alleged in a lawsuit filed last fall that Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at luxury Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s. Trump has denied the allegation, calling it "totally false" and saying he "never met this person in my life." The request and possible change of lawyers could further delay the lawsuit, or even kill it entirely. Should the Justice Department be allowed to take over, it could mean the end of Carroll's lawsuit as the federal government can't be sued for defamation, noted CNN legal analyst and University of Texas law school professor Steve Vladeck. Trump's denials came while he was acting in his official duties as President, the Justice Department said in court papers Tuesday.
"President Trump knows that I told the truth when I said that he had sexually assaulted me in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman. He also knows that he was lying when he said that he had never met me before and that I 'wasn't his type,'" Carroll said in a statement. "Today's actions demonstrate that Trump will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government, to block discovery from going forward in my case before the upcoming election to try to prevent a jury from ever deciding which one of us is lying," she said.
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