In a recent development, a federal judge has rejected former President Donald Trump’s attempt to dismiss the civil defamation lawsuit filed against him by writer E. Jean Carroll. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. District Court in Manhattan ruled that Trump’s arguments for dismissal have no merit.
The legal battle between Trump and Carroll has been ongoing for several years. Carroll accuses Trump of sexually assaulting her in a New York City department store in the mid-1990s and defaming her when she publicly shared her story decades later.
Roberta Kaplan, Carroll’s attorney (no relation to the judge), expressed satisfaction with the ruling, stating that it demonstrates the inadequacy of Trump’s defenses against the defamation claims. Kaplan also highlighted that Trump chose to waive presidential immunity, and he must now face the consequences of that decision.
At the time of writing, Trump’s lawyer has not responded to CNBC’s request for comment on the ruling.
Interestingly, just two days before the judge’s ruling, Trump countersued Carroll in the same case, accusing her of defamation for persistently claiming that he raped her. In his counterclaim, Trump referred to various public statements made by Carroll, including remarks she made after a separate civil case found him liable for sexually abusing her and defaming her. However, the jury in that case did not hold Trump accountable for rape. When questioned about the jury’s finding during a CNN interview, Carroll asserted, “Oh yes he did, oh yes he did.”
Trump’s legal team had initially moved to dismiss the original lawsuit in December, arguing that he was protected by “absolute immunity” because the alleged defamatory statements were made while he was president. They also contended that Carroll’s defamation claims did not meet the required legal standards, among other arguments.
However, Judge Kaplan’s 46-page ruling on Thursday firmly rejected these arguments. He dismissed the claim of presidential immunity, stating that Trump failed to establish any connection between his statements and his official responsibilities as president.
Carroll initially filed the defamation suit against Trump in 2019, while he was still in office. Following the publication of her account of the sexual assault in New York Magazine, Trump consistently denied the allegations, even stating, “She’s not my type.”
In 2022, Carroll filed a second civil suit against Trump. Just a day after the verdict in that case, Trump publicly criticized Carroll during a live CNN town hall event and once again denied her claims. In response, Carroll amended her complaint in the first lawsuit to include Trump’s latest comments and seek monetary damages of at least $10 million.
The trial for this case is scheduled to begin on January 15, 2024, and it remains to be seen how the legal proceedings will unfold. However, with the judge’s recent ruling rejecting Trump’s attempt to dismiss the lawsuit, the legal battle between Donald Trump and E. Jean Carroll continues to intensify.