E. Jean Carroll visited ‘Tell Me All’ with John Fugels at SiriusXM Studios on July 11, 2019 in New York.
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Many lawyers on Wednesday exploded at the last minute attempt by the U.S. Department of Justice to act as President Donald Trump̵7;s lawyers in a civil case in which he was accused of defaming a writer who said he was raped by Trump last year. the past.
“The DOJ is not intended to serve as the president’s personal adviser, specifically on thousands of taxpayer fees,” said Joseph Tacopina, a New York defense attorney.
“Trump is calling the alleged victim of rape … the liar is not acting in his official capacity,” Tacopina said.
“Although ad hominem attacks on members of the general public may be a regular occurrence in the Oval Office during these times, Article II of the Constitution does not include within the functions of the presidency the role that played by Chief Mudslinger. “
The Department of Justice on Tuesday, in an unusual move, filed a legal action seeking to move the lawsuit against E. Jean Carroll’s defamation suit against Trump, currently being held in New York state court, in federal Manhattan court.
The Department of Justice, whose move came two months before the U.S. presidential election, at the same time seeks to replace Trump’s civil lawyer in the case as president’s attorney.
The Justice Department said it had proven Trump was “acting within the scope of his office or work at the time of the incident in which the claim arose,” meaning Trump said last year that Carroll was lying about her being raped in a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.
“The United States will file a motion to replace itself for President Trump in this action for any claim where [Federal Tort Claims Act] provides exclusive relief, “the DOJ said in its filing with the federal court.
Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that the DOJ step came a month after a state court judge denied Trump said he was “immune from a private lawsuit over defamatory allegations. he did about a sexual assault he did in the 1990s. “
“As a result of that decision, Trump immediately needed to produce documents, provide a DNA sample, and sit down for a deportation,” Kaplan said. He accused Trump of helping the Department of Justice to file its action and claiming he was acting in his official capacity when he denied the rape claim.
“Even in today’s era, that debate is shocking,” Kaplan said.
Gerald Lefcourt, another leading defense attorney in New York, called the DOJ’s action “somewhat unheard of.”
“Just because you are president, if you hit the police or rape a woman, does not mean that the Department of Justice is defending you,” Lefcourt said. “The DOJ is not your lawyer.”
Lefcourt said the DOJ move was part of “a pattern of doing Trump’s legal work” by U.S. Attorney General William Barr.
Lefcourt pointed to the sudden and dramatic reversal of his position in the criminal case of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about talking to a Russian diplomat.
After pushing Flynn to be sentenced and resisting his efforts to clear the case, the DOJ requested last spring to overturn the prosecution. Trump has long criticized the case against Flynn.
“Now [Barr’s] going to court to help Trump with his personal affairs, such as this defamation lawsuit, “Lefcourt said, referring to Carroll’s lawsuit.
“Doing this [the DOJ] looks ridiculous. “
Lefcourt said he did not believe the DOJ alone sought to intervene in the case, 10 months after Carroll sued Trump.
“I’m sure Trump asked Barr to ‘make a way to get it off my back,’ he said.
Neither the White House nor the DOJ immediately responded to CNBC when asked if Trump or the White House asked the DOJ to intervene in Carroll’s lawsuit or to investigate the question of whether it could interfere.
White House spokeswoman Kayleigh McEnany, in a press briefing, was later asked if the president or anyone else in the White House discussed the intervention in the Department of Justice.
“I am not aware of any discussions that have taken place,” McEnany replied.
A White House official told NBC News that the DOJ’s move was “in line with the previous pattern under the Federal Tort Claims Act.” The official said the “DOJ affirmed that the defamation lawsuit should be heard properly in the federal court replaced by the United States as a defendant, because the President was acting within the scope of his office when he addressed the public. on these false allegations. “
“The action of the Department is in accordance with the simple language and intent of the Act as confirmed by the courts applicable when elected officials, such as members of Congress, respond to press inquiries including personal matters. matter, “the official said.
Lefcourt said hiring a federal judge to sign off on the removal of the Manhattan federal court case was “not automatic.”
“There are very few judges [that federal district] that would be desirable here, I think, “he said.
“When you try to remove it from the state court, you are saying that the state is incapable of providing proper justice and appropriate justice,” Lefcourt said.
He added that there is no reason to think that is the case in this lawsuit.
Carroll, in his own statement on the DOJ’s actions, said, “President Trump knew I was telling the truth when I said he had sexually assaulted me in a dressing room in Bergdorf Goodman.”
“He also knew he was lying when he said he had never met me before and I was not his type,” Carroll said. “[The DOJ’s] Trump’s actions showed that he would do everything possible, including using the full power of the federal government, to block the discovery from advancing my case before the upcoming election to try to prevent a jury from deciding which one we are the ones who lie. “
“But Trump belittled me, and he also belittled the American people.”
The DOJ’s shocking move came as Trump tried to avoid the effects of legal subpoenas for his personal and financial financial records. This month, a federal appeals court is set to hear what Trump’s second appeal seeks to block a subpoena to his accountants for his tax returns and other notes from the Manhattan District Attorney.
Also this month, a New York state court judge will hear arguments from Trump’s company and son Eric Trump seeking to block subpoenas from state attorney Letitia James as part of his civil investigation into whether the Trump Organization incorrectly recorded the value of assets for tax and commercial purposes. desire