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A judge rejects Donald Trump’s request to toss out defamation claims by columnist E. Jean Carroll

by Andrew Wright
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Trump sexual abuse defamation case verdict

A federal judge has rejected Donald Trump’s request to dismiss defamation claims made by columnist E. Jean Carroll. In a written opinion, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan stated that Carroll can proceed with her claims seeking at least $10 million in damages from Trump for his comments before and after she won a $5 million sexual abuse and defamation verdict against him. Trump had argued for dismissal based on absolute presidential immunity, stating that his statements were not defamatory and protected by free speech rights.

However, Judge Kaplan determined that Trump had waived his claim of absolute presidential immunity by failing to assert it earlier when the lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit had been delayed as legal issues were considered by appeals courts. Trump retaliated this week by countersuing Carroll, accusing her of libel for persisting in her claim of rape despite the jury’s verdict.

The original jury award stemmed from a lawsuit filed last November under a temporary New York state law allowing sexual assault victims to sue for damages even long after the incident occurred. Trump’s comments during a CNN broadcast echoed his previous statements as president in 2019 when Carroll published a memoir alleging that he had raped her in a department store dressing room in 1996.

Judge Kaplan emphasized that presidential immunity was meant to prevent the president from being distracted from official duties, rather than granting immunity from damages liability for any conduct unrelated to those duties. He also considered Carroll’s age and the fact that she had been pursuing claims against Trump for over three years.

Trump’s lawyers have not yet commented on the ruling. However, attorney Robbie Kaplan, who represents Carroll, expressed satisfaction with the decision, stating that it clears the way for the defamation damages trial scheduled for January 15.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about defamation claims

What was the outcome of the defamation claims by E. Jean Carroll against Donald Trump?

Former President Donald Trump’s request to dismiss defamation claims made by columnist E. Jean Carroll was rejected by a federal judge. The judge ruled that Carroll can proceed with her claims seeking at least $10 million in damages from Trump.

On what grounds did Donald Trump try to dismiss the lawsuit?

Donald Trump attempted to dismiss the lawsuit on the basis of absolute presidential immunity, arguing that his statements were not defamatory and were protected by free speech rights.

Why did the judge reject the claim of absolute presidential immunity?

The judge determined that Trump had waived his claim of absolute presidential immunity by not asserting it earlier when the lawsuit was filed. He stated that presidential immunity does not serve as a blanket protection from damages liability for conduct unrelated to official duties.

What did Donald Trump do in response to the lawsuit?

Donald Trump countersued E. Jean Carroll, claiming that she had libeled him by persisting with her rape accusation despite the jury’s verdict.

What was the basis of E. Jean Carroll’s original lawsuit?

E. Jean Carroll filed the lawsuit alleging sexual abuse and defamation after New York state enacted a temporary law allowing sexual assault victims to sue for damages even if the incidents occurred years earlier. The lawsuit stemmed from Carroll’s claim that Trump had raped her in a department store dressing room in 1996.

What are the next steps following the judge’s ruling?

The ruling allows E. Jean Carroll to proceed with the defamation damages trial, which is scheduled for January 15.

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