Federal judge rules US government can't replace Trump as defendant in defamation lawsuit by rape accuser

Federal judge rules US government can't replace Trump as defendant in defamation lawsuit by rape accuser
Image via Screengrab.

President Donald Trump has been hit with yet another legal blow just one week before the 2020 presidential election.

On Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan in Manhattan, N.Y., ruled that the U.S. government can not serve as a replacement for Trump as the defendant in the defamation lawsuit brought against him by the New York advice columnist E. Jean Carroll. Carroll says the president raped her inside of a department store dressing room two decades ago, according to Bloomberg.

Kaplan explained Trump technically is not an "'employee' of the federal government for the purposes of the Federal Tort Claims Act," which allows the U.S. government to replace workers in lawsuits where actions were taken due to their jobs, per the publication. Trump's request has also been cited as "too expansive."

"To conclude otherwise would require the Court to adopt a view that virtually everything the president does is within the public interest by virtue of his office," Kaplan said. "The government has provided no support for that theory, and the Court rejects it as too expansive."

Kaplan also noted that the outcome of the case may ultimately be contingent on Carroll's ability to prove she was attacked by Trump.

"The question whether Mr. Trump in fact raped Ms. Carroll appears to be at the heart of her lawsuit," Kaplan wrote. "That is so because the truth or falsity of a defendant's alleged defamatory statements can be dispositive of any defamation case."

Kaplan's ruling serves as another setback for the president because the case would have ultimately been thrown out due to the law that prohibits defamation lawsuits against the government.

Carroll's case is one of several Trump has faced over the years. Despite a substantial number of women accusing him of lewd behavior and sexual assault, he has continually denied the claims and dismissed the women as attention seeking or having ill intent for political reasons.

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