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DOJ To Represent Donald Trump In a Rape Lawsuit – Can They Do That?

DOJ To Represent Donald Trump In a Rape Lawsuit – Can They Do That?

Content Warning – Physical and Sexual Abuse

New York – On September 8, 2020, The Department of Justice (DOJ) through a court filing in the state of New York, moved to replace Donald Trump’s private legal team with government attorneys in a civil rape and defamation lawsuit brought by the author E. Jean Carroll. 

This unusual action indicates that the DOJ,  a federal agency, is representing  Donald Trump, not in his capacity as the President of the United States but, rather, in a private lawsuit where he is a defendant in the case.

Accusations Against Donald Trump

E. Jean Carroll has accused Donald Trump of raping her back in 1996. She alleges that this attack happened at Bergdorf Goodman, an upscale store in Midtown Manhattan. She claims that she bumped into Donald Trump while shopping at the store. 

Trump asked her for advice because he was trying to buy lingerie for another woman. He suggested in a joking manner that Carroll might “model” it for him. She claimed that Trump then lunged at her in the changing room, pinned her against a wall, and forced himself on her.

Donald Trump and his legal team denied this allegation, claiming that Donald Trump never met E. Jean Carroll. But a photograph shows them together at an event back in 1987. Donald Trump’s lawyers claimed that the photo was not legitimate. 

Carroll later filed a defamation lawsuit against Donald Trump when he publicly denied her claim, asserting that she was not his “type.” Carroll’s legal team has asked Donald Trump to provide his DNA sample to determine if his genetic material is on the black dress Carroll was wearing at the time of the alleged assault. 

Legal Analysis

The DOJ claimed the move to defend Trump in the case is valid because he was serving in his capacity as president at the time the defamation lawsuit was filed. The DOJ now seeks to elevate this case from the New York State Court to the Federal Court. Critics of the DOJ’s action claim that during Trump’s presidency he has compromised the Justice Department, which should operate independently of the White House. 

Steve Vladeck, a law professor at the University of Texas, asserts that the question is whether it is within the scope of law for government attorneys to defend (Trump)  accused of lying about a rape alleged when he was not yet elected as president. According to Vladeck, this court filing could kill the entire case because the federal government cannot be sued for defamation.

Can the DOJ legally interfere in this matter or is Donald Trump taking the law into his own hands?

Sources

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Afia is a lawyer, journalist, an avid traveler, an avid reader, a foodie, and an amateur singer. She enjoys instrumental music with her glass of wine ?

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