• By The Financial District


A federal judge rejected a US government request to drop Donald Trump as a defendant in a defamation lawsuit by a writer who said the president falsely denied raping her in a Manhattan department store a quarter century ago, Jonathan Stempel reported for Reuters.

US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan refused to let the government substitute itself for Trump as a defendant in former Elle magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit. A ruling for the government would have shielded Trump from liability and likely doomed Carroll’s defamation claim.

Carroll sued Trump last November in a New York state court, after he denied having raped her in Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s or knowing who she was. Trump said she fabricated the story to sell a new book, and added: “She’s not my type.”

Acting at the behest of Attorney General William Barr, the Department of Justice moved the case to federal court, where it said Trump acted in his official capacity when denying Carroll’s claims, and thus could not be sued personally for defamation. But Kaplan said a law shielding federal employees from being sued for acts done during their employment did not cover presidents. He also said Trump did not make his statements about Carroll in the scope of his employment as president. “No one even arguably directed or controlled President Trump when he commented on the plaintiff’s accusation, which had nothing to do with the official business of government, that he raped her decades before he took office,” Kaplan wrote in a 61-page decision. “And no one had the ability to control him.”