Tuesday, 28 September, 2021

Justice Department rightly tightens protections for journalists

DOJ is trying to take over defense of Trump rape allegation — even after Biden criticized it report US justice department argues Donald Trump cannot be held liable for ‘crude’ remarks
Ginger Lawrence | 09 June, 2021, 04:06

Donald Trump can not be held personally liable for "crude and disrespectful" remarks he made about a woman who accused him of rape because he made the comments while he was president, U.S. Justice Department lawyers told an appeals court late Monday.

"I think it's a mistake by Garland, and I think it's part of a broader pattern, where he has taken a middle road rather than affirmatively undoing some of the abuses of the Barr Justice Department", former Southern District of NY prosecutor and CNN's senior legal analyst Elie Honig, the author of the soon-to-be released book on Barr titled "Hatchet Man", told Law&Crime in a phone interview.

But the point is you can take a defense, and in this case it is the defense of Donald Trump, not because you support him, not because you support what he said, but because as a legal matter, Attorney General Barr may have taken the correct position.

After the Justice Department first articulated its view of the scope of the president's duties a year ago, 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".

Columnist E Jean Carroll accuses Mr Trump of assaulting her in the 1990s.

Justice Department lawyers also asked the judge to throw out the case because Trump is no longer president, and there is no reason to be concerned that the state violence at Lafayette Square will be repeated.

Carroll, 77, alleges that Trump sexually assaulted her in the changing room at the luxury Bergdorf Goodman department store on Fifth Avenue in NY in the mid-1990s.

"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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Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, called the Justice Department's brief "shocking" in a statement to Fox News.

If the appeals court agrees with DOJ that the USA should be substituted for Trump as defendant in the suit, the case would be dismissed because the government can't be sued for defamation.

"The DOJ's position is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong since it would give federal officials free license to cover up private sexual misconduct by publicly brutalizing any woman who has the courage to come forward", she said.

What arguments has the DoJ used?

"We remain confident that Judge Kaplan's decision will be affirmed by the Second Circuit", she added.

This isn't the first time the new Justice Department has taken up its predecessor's attempts to directly protect Trump.

Consequently, if a court finds Mr Trump defamed Ms Carroll, the taxpayers would foot the bill for any payout.

An excerpt from the book, obtained by Vanity Fair, said Trump campaign pollster Tony Fabrizio tried to debunk the theory in a campaign memo. "No. 2, it never happened", during an interview at the White House with The Hill. Trump denied the allegations and accused Carroll of lying to sell books.

Ms Carroll claims she managed to push him off after a "colossal struggle".