Roberta Kaplan, an attorney who represents writer E. Jean Carroll as she pursues defamation claims against former President Donald Trump for his response to her account of a sexual assault she says he perpetrated against her in the 1990s, ripped the ex-White House tenant after a startling filing ahead of a trial slated for early next year.
In that filing, signed by Trump lawyer Alina Habba, the argument is that Carroll is somehow herself complicit in the harsh statements Donald made while in office after she shared her story. His response then and now has included maligning her appearance and tying what she revealed to a book promotion push. The idea is that her decision to widely publicize what she says happened was somehow implicitly seeking a response from Trump. “In short, Plaintiff sought to drum up a national outcry in response to her narrative, she succeeded, and she cannot now claim that the statements were defamatory when she actively solicited them,” Habba said. That argument seems to contradict any reasonably basic understanding about the elements of Carroll’s case. How can she be responsible for the content of what someone else said? Even if she did ask Trump for a response, how could she have predicted what he would say?
“E. Jean Carroll did not ‘consent’ to being sexually assaulted by Donald Trump any more than she ‘consented’ to being defamed by him,” Kaplan said. “Trump’s latest ‘she made me do it’ defense is not only extraordinarily offensive, but completely lacks merit under New York law.”
Carroll also filed for relief under new rules in New York reopening opportunities for survivors of sexual assault to seek court action after they’d have been previously limited by statutes of limitations. In those claims, she also pointed to an October 2022 post Trump made on his account on his alternative social media site Truth Social in which he restated some of the same sentiments that led to the first defamation claims in 2019. “The false statement that Trump made about Carroll on October 12, 2022, was published with knowledge of its falsity and/or with reckless disregard for the truth,” the lawsuit insists. That filing also seeks a court order for the ex-president to retract what he said.
The rest of the filing from Habba dealing with Donald’s challenged earlier statements is melodramatic. “At the heart of this case lies a singular question of paramount importance: should a sitting President have the right to address the public on matters of grave national importance without fear of being dragged into harassing and burdensome lawsuits? The answer to this question will reverberate well beyond the instant dispute,” the doc says. And that somehow includes Donald maligning Carroll’s looks and characterizing her as making it up? Considerations of protections associated with the presidency potentially covering what he said remain pending before appeals judges in the capital.