“There is not a single person in the United States — not the President and not anyone else — whose job description includes slandering women who they sexually assaulted,” Carroll’s lawyers wrote in a motion filed in federal court here late Monday. “That should not be a controversial proposition.”
Carroll’s lawyers Roberta Kaplan and Joshua Matz called it “inconceivable” that Americans would expect the president’s job to entail “viciously defaming” the victim of a crime. They are seeking a hearing to determine if the Justice Department acted within the scope of the law when, last month, it stepped in to defend the president, effectively making the U.S. government the defendant in the case — not Trump personally.
Carroll accused Trump of raping her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan during the mid-1990s. Her claim was included in a memoir published last year.
The statements at issue were made by the president after an excerpt pertaining to Trump was published in New York Magazine.
In response, the former Elle magazine columnist filed a lawsuit in New York Supreme Court alleging defamation. Trump’s personal lawyers had sought to delay the case but appeared to have run out of options in August when a state court judge ruled that the proceedings must move forward.
Carroll’s legal team also argued in the filing that the Federal Tort Claims Act, a statute cited by the Justice Department in support of its bid to intervene, does not actually apply to the president, and that New York state law applies to the type of case at issue.
The Justice Department’s intervention was viewed by critics of the decision as an attempt by Attorney General William P. Barr to protect the president. Barr has defended his department’s involvement, saying any outrage is a side effect of the country’s “bizarre political environment.”
The White House and Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Monday night.
Carroll’s lawyers previously argued that a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in July established that the president does not have immunity from state court proceedings. In that case, the nation’s highest court ruled that Trump was not immune from an investigation by Manhattan’s district attorney, who is seeking eight years of the president’s tax returns.
Before the case was transferred to federal court, Trump was set to be deposed and provide a DNA sample for comparison to genetic material. Kaplan has said that Trump surely recognized “there was no valid basis” to appeal the state court’s ruling that the case should go forward so he “enlisted” the Justice Department to claim that his public comments about the accusation were part of his official duties.