Biden's Justice Department follows Trump's lead in E. Jean Carroll defamation lawsuit

File The Washington Post building

File The Washington Post building

When Barr was still in power last October, a federal judge rejected the Justice Department's claim that Trump had been acting in his official capacity as president of the United States when he told reporters: "She's not my type", referring to the woman accusing him of rape.

Attempts had ostensibly been made to dissuade Trump by campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio, who "devoted almost an entire page of [a campaign memo] to debunking a conspiracy theory that had bubbled up inside Trump World, including with the president, that Democrats were going to steal Biden's nomination at the convention".

Carroll alleged that Trump raped her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in the 1990s, which he has denied.

Justice Department lawyers, under Barr, had objected to releasing the document on the basis of attorney-client privilege, but Jackson found that memo contained "strategic, as opposed to legal advice", created to support Barr's determination to absolve Trump.

After the Justice Department first articulated its view of the scope of the president's duties past year, Carroll's lawyer Robbie Kaplan starkly summarized: "There is not a single person in the United States - not the president and not anyone else - whose job description includes slandering women they sexually assaulted".

The appeal from the Justice Department argues the federal government is responsible for the statements made by a sitting president.

"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".

"Elected public officials can - and often must - address allegations regarding personal wrongdoing that inspire doubt about their suitability for office", the filing stated.

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Though Carroll's lawyer expressed confidence in the appeal, the Justice Department's move will further delay resolution Carroll's litigation.

But now Biden's DOJ is getting involved in the case, taking up Trump's defense. Kaplan said that the DOJ had waived that argument by waiting too long to make it, but even so, it was not convincing.

ABC News has reached out to the White House for comment.

Reacting to the latest development, Ms Carroll said: "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".

DOJ lawyers are fighting to keep secret a memo that Barr cited to justify his decision not to charge Trump with obstruction of justice during the investigation by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

An excerpt from the book, obtained by Vanity Fair, said Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio tried to debunk the theory in a campaign memo.

After Carroll's 2019 accusation, Trump said that he never met Carroll and accused her of fabricating the allegations to sell her book or to "carry out a political agenda".

Because New York had a five-year statute of limitations for rape in the 1990s, Ms Carroll was unable to press charges when she made a decision to come forward in 2017.

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