WASHINGTON, D.C. (WTVO) — President Joe Biden’s Justice Department on Monday filed documents to defend former President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit over a decades-old rape allegation.
According to the New York Times, Biden slammed Trump on the campaign trail leading up to the 2020 election, accusing the former president of using the Justice Department as his “own private law firm” in multiple instances, including the case of E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of sexually assaulting her in the mid-1990’s.
However, on Monday night, Biden’s Justice Department essentially took the same position, arguing that Trump could not be sued for defamation because he made the allegedly offending statements as part of his official duties as president.
Trump denied the allegation, saying “she’s not my type” and the incident “never happened.”
“Speaking to the public and the press on matters of public concern is undoubtedly part of an elected official’s job,” the Justice Department argued Monday. “Courts have thus consistently and repeatedly held that allegedly defamatory statements made in that context are within the scope of elected officials’ employment — including when the statements were prompted by press inquiries about the official’s private life.”
The Justice Department acknowledged Trump’s remarks were “crude and disrespectful” but were essentially correct in
Caroll, a former columnist for Elle magazine, filed a defamation suit in 2019.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said in a statement, “The DOJ’s position is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong since it would give federal officials free license to cover up private sexual misconduct by publicly brutalizing any woman who has the courage to come forward. Calling a woman you sexually assaulted a ‘liar,’ a ‘slut,’ or ‘not my type,’ as Donald Trump did here, is not the official act of an American president.”
Trump’s legal team responded by saying, “This is not a case where a president, without prompting, randomly targeted a private citizen. Rather, Carroll, a public figure, accused Trump of terrible misconduct 20 years earlier in a book and magazine article for which she sought maximum publicity. He denied her accusations in precisely the manner she expected. A short time later, she sued him for defamation.”