Judge rejects Donald Trump’s request to toss out defamation claims by columnist

Former President Donald Trump’s claims that absolute presidential immunity and free speech rights protect him from the defamation claims of a New York columnist have been rejected Thursday by a federal decide.

The author, E. Jean Carroll, can proceed to press claims that Trump owes her at the least $10 million in damages for feedback he made earlier than and after she received a $5 million sexual abuse and defamation verdict towards him final month, Judge Lewis A. Kaplan stated in a written opinion.

Trump tried to dismiss the lawsuit on grounds that he’s entitled to absolute presidential immunity, his statements weren’t defamatory and that his statements have been opinion protected by free speech rights.

Kaplan stated Trump surrendered absolute presidential immunity as a protection by failing to assert it years in the past when the lawsuit was filed. The lawsuit was delayed till just lately as appeals courts thought-about authorized points surrounding it.

Trump countersued Carroll this week, claiming that she has libeled him by persevering with to insist that he raped her even after a jury discovered in any other case.

After a jury returned its verdict final month in Manhattan federal court docket, Trump made feedback on a CNN city corridor that prompted Carroll to assert new defamation claims in a 2020 defamation lawsuit.

The jury award resulted from a sexual abuse and defamation lawsuit filed final November after New York state briefly enacted a regulation permitting sexual assault victims to sue for damages ensuing from assaults that occurred even a long time earlier.

Trump’s claims within the CNN broadcast mirrored statements he made whereas president in 2019 when Carroll printed a memoir through which she claimed Trump raped her within the dressing room of a luxurious midtown Manhattan division retailer in spring 1996.

Inside hours of excerpts from the guide being printed in {a magazine}, Trump denied a rape occurred or that he ever knew Carroll.

“Mr. Trump didn’t merely deny Ms. Carroll’s accusation of sexual assault,” Kaplan wrote. “As an alternative, he accused Ms. Carroll of mendacity about him sexually assaulting her so as to improve gross sales of her guide, acquire publicity, and/or carry out a political agenda.”

The decide stated the primary objective of presidential immunity was to keep away from diverting the president from public duties, nevertheless it was not a “get-out-of-damages-liability-free card that allows the president to say or do something she or he wishes even when that conduct is disconnected solely from an official perform.”

Kaplan stated he took into consideration that Carroll is now 79 years outdated and has pursued claims towards Trump for 3 1/2 years.

“There isn’t any foundation to threat prolonging the decision of this litigation additional by allowing Mr. Trump to increase his absolute immunity protection now on the eleventh hour when he might have achieved so years in the past,” he stated.

In rejecting claims that Carroll’s lawsuit was about protected speech, Kaplan defined how libel and slander are dealt with within the courts and why Trump’s statements could possibly be construed to match the authorized definition for defamation, together with {that a} jury had already discovered it so.

Trump’s legal professionals didn’t instantly remark.

Lawyer Robbie Kaplan, who represents Carroll and is unrelated to the decide, stated in an announcement that the decide’s ruling “confirms that when once more, Donald Trump’s supposed defenses to E. Jean Carroll’s defamation claims don’t work.”

She added: “As we speak’s determination removes another obstacle to the January 15 trial on E Jean’s defamation damages on this case.”

The Related Press usually doesn’t title individuals who say they’ve been sexually assaulted until they arrive ahead publicly, as Carroll has achieved.

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