A federal judge has rejected DOJ’s attempt to defend the president against E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case.
Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan, a Bill Clinton appointee, issued a decision on Tuesday after the DOJ removed of the Carroll case from state court to federal court in an attempt to substitute the U.S. as the defendant in place of Trump. That DOJ defense strategy, which Attorney General Bill Barr described as “routine,” was rejected.
Turning the Department of Justice into Donald Trump’s personal legal defense firm is anything but “routine.” It is an unprecedented corruption of the Department of Justice. Attorney General Bill Barr was essentially making the Louis XIV defense: L’etat c’est moi (I am the state). The modern version of this bullshit is the unitary executive theory.
Judge Kaplan, in straightforward fashion, said that the DOJ did not convince him that President Trump was acting within the scope of his office when he called Carroll’s rape accusation a lie.
“As explained above, the undisputed facts demonstrate that President Trump was not acting in furtherance of any duties owed to any arguable employer when he made the statements at issue. His comments concerned an alleged sexual assault that took place several decades before he took office, and the allegations have no relationship to the official business of the United States,” the judge said. “To conclude otherwise would require the Court to adopt a view that virtually everything the president does is within the public interest by virtue of his office. The government has provided no support for that theory, and the Court rejects it as too expansive.”
In short, Kaplan ruled, President Trump is not an “’employee of the Government’ within the meaning of the relevant statutes,” namely the Federal Tort Claims Act. But even if Trump was a covered employee, the judge wrote, making allegedly defamatory statements is not part of the job of the president.
“Even if he were such an ’employee,’ President Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment,” he said. “Accordingly, the motion to substitute the United States in place of President Trump [Dkt. 3] is denied.”
Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan said in a statement that she and her client were “very pleased” that the judge “interpreted the plain text of Federal Tort Claims Act as not covering President Trump’s false statements about our client, E. Jean Carroll.”
“The simple truth is that President Trump defamed our client because she was brave enough to reveal that he had sexually assaulted her, and that brutal, personal attack cannot be attributed to the Office of the President,” Kaplan said. “Judge Kaplan’s words speak for themselves. As he observed: ‘A comment about government action, public policy, or even an election is categorically different than a comment about an alleged sexual assault that took place roughly twenty years before the president took office.’”
“In response to the Trump DOJ’s startling claim that virtually anything that Donald Trump says is within his scope of employment as president, the Court explained that ‘[a]ccepting [that position] would mean that a president is free to defame anyone who criticizes his conduct or impugns his character – without adverse consequences to that president and no matter what injury he inflicts on the person defamed,’” she added.
The attorney said that she was looking forward to litigating against Trump in his personal capacity in federal court.
Trump losing the election would render Barr’s argument moot on appeal. Trump would now be just a private citizen without the shield of the presidency.
E. Jean Carroll is waiting for you on the other side of election day, Donny. Judgement day is coming.