Biden DOJ backs Trump in rape defamation case and says ex-prez 'can't be held responsible for crude comments in office’

JOE Biden's Justice Department is continuing to defend Donald Trump in the defamation lawsuit brought by writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of raping her in the 1990s.

In a court filing on Monday, the Department of Justice's (DOJ) Civil Division argued that the US government should be able to replace Trump as the defendant in the suit, which was filed in 2019.

In making its argument, the DOJ said that Trump could not be sued for defamation for statements he made while serving as president.

The decision appeared to mirror a Trump-era argument that the remarks he made were protected as part of his official duties as president – though the DOJ called his words "crude and disrespectful" in the Monday filing.

The decision could pave the way for Trump to be given immunity over his remarks and for the suit against him to be tossed out.

Carroll, a former Elle Magazine columnist, published a book in 2019 in which she accused Trump of raping her inside of a New York City department store dressing room in 1996.

She said the assault occurred during a "colossal struggle" between her and the business magnate.

Trump publicly denied the allegations in an interview from the Oval Office, not only insisting that Carroll was "totally lying" to increase sales of her book but also said she was "not my type" and claimed he'd never met her.

When presented with a picture in which they were both photographed at a 1987 party alongside Carroll’s former husband, John Johnson, Trump maintained that he had "no idea" who Carroll is.

The comments prompted Carroll to sue him for defamation later the same year. She claimed his remarks ruined her reputation and led to her firing from Elle Magazine after nearly three decades.

The case had been making its way through New York state court until September when then-Attorney General William Barr transferred the case to federal court and allowed Trump's DOJ to represent him.

The following month, the first federal judge to hear the case ruled that the DOJ could not defend Trump and blocked the department's efforts to intervene.

That decision was later appealed by the DOJ, with many expecting Biden's Department of Justice to drop the case, the New York Times reported.

Attorney's for Carroll urged the Biden Administration to not defend Trump in her lawsuit against him back in April.

Her attorneys argued that it was "wrong" that Trump should be protected from the suit simply because he was president.

But Biden's DOJ argued on Monday that Trump had been acting within the scope of his office when he publicly denied raping Carroll when speaking to the media inside the Oval Office.

“Elected public officials can — and often must — address allegations regarding personal wrongdoing that inspire doubt about their suitability for office,” federal attorneys wrote.

"Officials do not step outside the bounds of their office simply because they are addressing questions regarding allegations about their personal lives.”

The DOJ's brief opened by insisting that its legal defense of Trump should not be seen as an endorsement of his statements.

"Then-President Trump’s response to Ms. Carroll’s serious allegations of sexual assault included statements that questioned her credibility in terms that were crude and disrespectful,” the attorneys wrote.

"But this case does not concern whether Mr. Trump’s response was appropriate. Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms. Carroll’s allegations."

A spokesperson for the White House told Politico that it played no role in the Justice Department's decision and stressed that President Biden has set a new standard as to what qualifies as an acceptable statement.

“This is in active litigation, and so we refer you to the Department of Justice concerning its court filings,” spokesperson Andrew Bates said.

“The White House was not consulted by DOJ on the decision to file this brief or its contents. While we are not going to comment on this ongoing litigation, the American people know well that President Biden and his team have utterly different standards from their predecessors for what qualify as acceptable statements.”

Carroll's attorney Roberta Kaplan, meanwhile, said she was disturbed by the Biden administration's decision to side with Trump in the suit.

"It is horrific that Donald Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in a New York City department store many years ago,” Kaplan said in a statement.

"But it is truly shocking that the current Department of Justice would allow Donald Trump to get away with lying about it, thereby depriving our client of her day in court."

Kaplan continued that the DOJ's stance on the matter 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."

Carroll, too, responded angrily to the decision.

She told the New York Times: "As women across the country are standing up and holding men accountable for assault — the DOJ is trying to stop me from having that same right. I am angry! I am offended!"

If the DOJ is successful in its attempts to replace Trump as the defendant in the suit, then the case will be dismissed, as the government cannot be sued for defamation.

It would also transfer the financial burden of defending Trump from the former president to the American taxpayer.

Carroll came forward with her rape allegations against Trump at the height of the #MeToo movement.

Detailing the claims in her book, What Do We Need Me For?, Carroll claimed Trump attacked her in the dressing room of the upscale department store, Bergdorf Goodman.

Having earlier met him in 1987, Carroll claims she run into Trump inside the store when he asked her to help him pick out an outfit for another woman.

She alleges that they eventually wound up in the lingerie department where Trump asked her to try on a bodysuit, she said.

It was at this point, Carroll claims, that Trump closed the door of the dressing room, pinned her against the wall, and sexually assaulted her.

Carroll said she told two friends about the assault at the time, but didn't tell police because she feared the well-connected businessman could end her career.

She is still in possession of the Donna Karan dress she was wearing when the assault allegedly happened.

In January 2020, tests found the DNA of an unidentified male on the shoulder and sleeves of the dress. 

Carroll's legal team has been fighting for Trump to submit a DNA sample, though their efforts have so far failed.

Trump has not been criminally charged in relation to Carroll's claims.

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