A federal executive department responsible for enforcing the law and administering justice will provide legal representation for the president’s libel case against a controversial media personality.
The Department of Justice (DOJ) has confirmed it will take over President Donald Trump’s legal counsel in a defamation case against Elle Magazine columnist Elizabeth Jean Carroll. Carroll claims the president sexually assaulted her at a Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City back in the mid-1990s.
The president maintained his innocence and declared nothing unlawful happened between him and Carroll.
“The claim asserts defamation based on a written statement issued to the press and two statements the president made in interviews in June 2019 in which the president vehemently denied accusations made in the plaintiff’s then-forthcoming book,” acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Clark said in a court document. “The president explained that these accusations were false and that the incident she alleged never happened.”
Clark has informed the New York Supreme Court that the DOJ has the power to intervene since the allegations surfaced after President Trump had begun serving the Oval Office. As part of the arrangement, the DOJ will provide federal government lawyers to replace the president’s legal team.
“The attorney general’s delegate certified that President Trump was acting within the scope of his office as president of the United States when he publicly denied as false the allegations made by [the] plaintiff,” he said. “Because President Trump was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the plaintiff’s claim arose, the United States will file a motion to substitute itself for President Trump in this action for any claim for which the Federal Tort Claims Act provides the exclusive remedy.”
Kaplan Hecker and Fink LLP founder Roberta “Robbie” Kaplan appeared to panic after learning her client would now have to battle against the DOJ.
“On the very day that he would have been required to appeal, Trump instead enlisted the U.S. DOJ to replace his private lawyers and argue that when he lied about sexually assaulting our client, explaining that she ‘was not his type,’ he was acting in his official capacity as president of the United States,” Kaplan said on Twitter.
Kaplan did not provide any legal grounds for why the department should not take over the case and chose to talk about her hurt feelings instead.
“Even in today’s world that argument is shocking,” she said. “It offends me as a lawyer and offends me even more as a citizen. Trump’s effort to wield the power of the U.S. government to evade responsibility for his private misconduct is without precedent and shows even more starkly how far he is willing to go to prevent the truth from coming out.”