Donald Trump seeks end to assault accuser's defamation lawsuit

Washington appeals court must decide if former president was a federal employee when he called E Jean Carroll a liar

Former US president Donald Trump speaks at a rally last week in Youngstown, Ohio. Reuters
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Donald Trump is seeking a quick end to the defamation lawsuit by an author who claimed that he raped her.

A lawyer for the former US president asked a federal judge in Manhattan on Wednesday to substitute the US as the defendant in E Jean Carroll's lawsuit, a move that would end her case because the government cannot be sued for defamation.

The request came one day after the 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals said Mr Trump was a federal employee when he called Ms Carroll a liar, but left it to a Washington appeals court to decide whether he acted as president when he spoke.

In a letter to US District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan, Mr Trump's lawyer Alina Habba said the decision meant the government "must be substituted as a defendant".

She also asked to put the case on hold, saying it would be "highly prejudicial" for Mr Trump to spend time and money preparing for trial if the Washington court ruled in his favour.

Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, said "nothing has changed" and the case should proceed.

"The parties have been co-operatively engaged in discovery at Donald Trump's request, and nothing has happened that should change that," she said.

"There has been no final determination by an appellate court that the government should be substituted in."

Ms Carroll sued Mr Trump in November 2019, five months after he denied raping her in a dressing room of department store Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s and said "she's not my type".

The former Elle magazine columnist still plans to sue Mr Trump for battery and inflicting emotional distress, in a separate lawsuit in November.

Ms Carroll plans to invoke a new state law giving accusers a one-year window to sue over alleged sexual misconduct even if the statute of limitations expired long ago.

Tuesday's decision set aside Ms Kaplan's ruling that Mr Trump was neither acting as president when discussing Ms Carroll, nor a federal employee for purposes of her case.

Updated: September 29, 2022, 12:24 AM