Judge: US can't replace Trump in accuser's defamation suit

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E. Jean Carroll, who says President Donald Trump raped her in the 1990s, leaves the Daniel Patrick Moynihan United States Courthouse following a hearing in her defamation lawsuit against Trump, Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, in New York. A federal judge on Tuesday denied President Donald Trump's request that the United States replace him as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit alleging he raped a woman in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

NEW YORK – President Donald Trump’s request that the United States replace him as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit, which alleges he raped a woman in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s, was denied Tuesday by a federal judge.

The decision by U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan came after the Justice Department argued that the United States — and by extension the American people — should replace Trump as the defendant in a lawsuit filed by the columnist E. Jean Carroll.

The government’s lawyers contended that the United States could step in as the defendant because Trump was forced to respond to her lawsuit to prove he was physically and mentally fit for the job.

A lawyer for Carroll, Roberta Kaplan, called it a clear victory for her client.

“The simple truth is that President Trump defamed our client because she was brave enough to reveal that he had sexually assaulted her, and that brutal, personal attack cannot be attributed to the Office of the President,” Kaplan said in a statement.

Messages were left on Tuesday for lawyers for Trump and the Justice Department seeking comment.

The judge ruled that a law protecting federal employees from being sued individually for things they do within the scope of their employment didn't apply to a president.

“The President of the United States is not an employee of the Government within the meaning of the relevant statutes,” Kaplan wrote. “Even if he were such an employee, President Trumps allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment."