A federal appeals court overturned a judge’s judgment that Donald Trump may be sued for defamation by E. Jean Carroll after he denied raped her, but it fell short of declaring Trump immune from the author’s case.
The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan requested an appeals court in Washington to weigh in on whether the statutes of that district exempted Trump from accountability in a 2-1 ruling on Tuesday.
However, the Manhattan court accepted Trump’s contention that he qualified as a U.S. government “employee” when he allegedly defamed Carroll, which was a prerequisite of his immunity claim.
A dissenting judge, Denny Chin, would have let Carroll pursue “at least some” claims, saying “Carroll’s allegations plausibly paint a picture of a man pursuing a personal vendetta against an accuser.”
Carroll sued Trump in November 2019, and had been hoping to go to trial as soon as next February.
She had accused Trump in a June 2019 book excerpt of having raped her in late 1995 or early 1996 in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in midtown Manhattan.
Trump, then in his third year in the White House, responded to her accusations by telling a reporter he did not know Carroll, that “she’s not my type,” and that she concocted the rape claim to sell her book.
Alina Habba, a lawyer for Trump, said in a statement she was “extremely pleased” with Tuesday’s decision, saying it would “protect the ability of all future presidents to effectively govern without hindrance.”
Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, said in a statement she was “confident” the District of Columbia court would let the case proceed.
On Sept. 20, Kaplan said Carroll planned to sue Trump for battery and inflicting emotional distress even if the defamation claims were thrown out.
She cited a new state law, the Adult Survivors Act, which gives adult accusers a one-year window starting on Nov. 24 to bring civil claims over alleged sexual misconduct occurring long ago.