Trump to Be Hit With Second Round of Lawsuit by Woman Claiming Rape
WASHINGTON — An advice columnist who accused Donald Trump of raping her before he was president plans to refile her defamation lawsuit against him this week and add a new legal claim.
The new claim of battery results from the sexual assault that E. Jean Carroll says Trump inflicted on her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s.
She seeks compensation for what she says is damage to her reputation as a journalist after Trump called her a liar.
Carroll added the battery allegation as her lawsuit for defamation faces increasingly dim chances of success.
Last week, Trump pushed back with support from the Justice Department by urging the District of Columbia Court of Appeals to dismiss the lawsuit.
He argued that his comments about Carroll were a response to media inquiries while he performed his official duties as president. As a matter of federal law, presidents are immune from liability for their official actions.
“The president’s ability to effectively deal with personal accusations (which typically affect any president) was part and parcel of his position as chief executive of the United States,” Trump argued in a legal brief.
Federal court precedent has traditionally sided with public officials who claim immunity from defamation lawsuits based on their public comments.
The Justice Department agreed in a separate legal brief that Trump should be immune from the lawsuit but added that it did not agree with his comments.
Trump’s statements “were without question unnecessary and abhorrent,” the Justice Department wrote but added that they should be tolerated because they dealt with his fitness to hold office.
“When reporters ask the mayor (or the president or a member of Congress) to respond to serious public allegations of wrongdoing, their questions are posed to that official in her capacity as an elected official accountable to the public,” the Justice Department said.
“Likewise, when the mayor (or the president or member of Congress) responds to reporters’ questions with denials of wrongdoing, she acts within the scope of her public office.”
Caroll’s attorney revealed plans to modify the lawsuit in a court filing last week.
Attorney Roberta A. Kaplan said the amended lawsuit would be filed Thursday. It would revive the defamation claim based on statements Trump made after he left office.
One of them was last month, when Trump again accused Carroll of lying in a social media post and called her “a complete con job.”
The refiled lawsuit’s claim of battery is allowed under a new state law in New York called the Adult Survivors Act. It offers adult sexual assault victims an opportunity to sue years after the attack, despite the fact the statute of limitations otherwise would have extinguished any opportunities for a lawsuit.
The Adult Survivors Act opens a time frame for the lawsuits that begins this week on Nov. 24.
Carroll, now 78, wrote in a 2019 book titled “What Do We Need Men For?: A Modest Proposal” that Trump raped her after they met at the Bergdorf Goodman luxury department store in New York City. She said he pushed her against a wall, pulled down her tights, opened his pants and forced his way into her.
At the time, she wrote the “Ask E. Jean” column for Elle magazine.
Trump denied ever meeting Carroll when he first called her a liar.
The lawsuit is Carroll v. Trump in the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.
Tom can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @tramstack.