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Federal Judge Strikes DOJ from the Docket in E. Jean Carroll’s Case Against Donald Trump


In late October, a federal judge denied the Department of Justice’s effort to fend off rape allegations against President Donald Trump in a defamation suit on the taxpayer’s dime, but the court’s docket did not catch up with that reality for weeks.

U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan made the record abundantly clear in a 1-page order on Friday.

“[T]he docket sheet erroneously lists Mr. [Stephen] Terrell and another attorney as counsel for defendant Trump,” Kaplan wrote, referring to a Justice Department lawyer. “That is incorrect. They represent only the United States.”

Carroll says that Trump defamed her by denying that he raped her in the dressing room of the department store Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s.

The Justice Department tried to barge into the case in September, insisting that Trump responding to rape allegations with comments like “She’s not my type” is just one of the duties befitting of the President of the United States.

Carroll’s legal described that proposition as wrong and obscene the next month.

“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,” attorney Roberta Kaplan wrote last month in a blistering legal brief. “That should not be a controversial proposition. Remarkably, however, the Justice Department seeks to prove it wrong.”

The Justice Department nevertheless persisted, only for Judge Kaplan to reject their effort mere days before the presidential election.

“As explained above, the undisputed facts demonstrate that President Trump was not acting in furtherance of any duties owed to any arguable employer when he made the statements at issue,” the judge said. “His comments concerned an alleged sexual assault that took place several decades before he took office, and the allegations have no relationship to the official business of the United States. To conclude otherwise would require the Court to adopt a view that virtually everything the president does is within the public interest by virtue of his office. The government has provided no support for that theory, and the Court rejects it as too expansive.”

The judge ordered on Friday that Trump’s prior private counsel in the state lawsuit represent the outgoing president in federal court.

“Accordingly, by virtue of their appearance on behalf of Mr. Trump in the state court, Messrs. [Marc] Kasowitz and Burgo and Ms. Montenegro represent Mr. Trump in this removed action unless and until relieved by this Court,” the order said, referring to Trump campaign’s lawyer for the investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

Kasowitz did not immediately respond to an email requesting comment.

An initial pre-trial conference has been scheduled for Dec. 11 at 9:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Read Judge Kaplan’s order below:

[Images via Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images for Glamour, MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images]

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."