Writer E. Jean Carroll is planning a new lawsuit against Trump over the sexual assault she says he perpetrated against her in the 1990s.
Previously, Carroll filed a defamation case against Trump after he aggressively denied her claims and accused her of lying, tying her allegations to alleged promotion for a book she wrote. He also claimed he had never met the writer. New York Democratic Governor Kathy Hochul signed a law into effect that opens up a new window for filing lawsuits over incidents of sexual assault no matter how long ago the acts were perpetrated, and Carroll — according to a letter from her lawyer, Roberta Kaplan — is preparing her new lawsuit against Trump under the terms of that law for when it goes into effect in late November. Kaplan also raised the prospect of combining Carroll’s defamation and assault claims for trial, something to which Trump lawyer Alina Habba expressed predictable opposition, claiming Trump’s rights would be violated by the proposed arrangement.
The specific claims Carroll is preparing to bring against Trump in her new civil lawsuit include battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress. As for the original case, Trump has been trying to use defenses associated with his former government position, although — understandably — Kaplan challenges the notion Trump’s comments about Carroll made while he was president had anything legitimate to do with his formal role. “Trump has argued that he was shielded from the lawsuit by a federal law that provides immunity to government employees from defamation claims,” The Guardian explains. Surprisingly, the Justice Department in the Biden era continued running with the argument Trump could be shielded from Carroll’s defamation claims because of his then-position. “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,” Kaplan replied.
At this point, the defamation case — after moving from state to federal court — is awaiting further action by a federal appeals court. Obviously, things technically remain at the stage of an allegation (rather than something formally proven) in this and related cases. Carroll’s side is pursuing a DNA sample from Trump and a deposition of the ex-president.
When still in power, Attorney General Bill Barr wanted the Justice Department tacked onto the case, which would have meant an end to the matter because of protections against defamation claims in that kind of set-up. A federal judge already ruled against Barr’s efforts and approved the case against Trump — in his personal capacity — continuing, but that development wasn’t the end of it. If the defamation case stands, it would add to an already staggeringly long list of potential legal vulnerabilities for the ex-president, ranging from issues that could lead to financial penalties to those with possible jail-time looming in the rhetorical shadows. Carroll is one of many women who have revealed stories of some form of sexual misconduct perpetrated by Donald Trump, whose long history of avoiding serious accountability — in part by engaging in legal tactics that create serious delays — might be finally drawing to a close.