The New York writer who successfully sued Donald Trump for sexual abuse and defamation says his latest complaint – that it was he, in fact, who was defamed by the victim of his assault – should be dismissed.
In June, just weeks after a unanimous jury awarded $5 million to writer E. Jean Carroll, Trump fought back, alleging that Carroll’s persistent insistence on raping her in a dressing room Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s amounted to libel. He specifically pointed to a statement she made in a May 10 interview with CNN in which, when asked about the jury’s finding that he did not rape her, she replied, “Oh yeah, he did. done,” Carroll said. “Oh yes, he did.”
On Tuesday, Carroll, through his attorney Roberta Kaplan, filed a motion to dismiss.
His motion describes Trump’s defamation allegation as something akin to satire:
Trump’s “tit for tat” counterclaim is nothing more than his latest effort to flaunt his loss at trial. Trump alleges that Carroll defamed him and caused him “disproportionate” harm by implying in a post-trial interview that when he sexually assaulted her, he not only used his fingers, but also his penis. While it may sound like an article written by Andy Borowitz in The New Yorker or by a writer at The Onion, it is actually the counterclaim theory that Trump now claims to be asserting in this action. But here, in federal court, where logic and reason rather than satire prevail, it’s clear that Trump’s new counterclaim for defamation must be dismissed with prejudice.
Carroll’s motion provides additional key context to Carroll’s “yes, he did” comment, explaining that she was telling the CNN interviewer what she was thinking at the time the jury returned their finding otherwise.
A reporter, according to the filing, asked Carroll to “talk about what you were thinking as the jury’s decisions were read in your mind.” A transcript of this part of the interview follows:
Journalist: What about the date when this first discovery was found? This jury found that Trump did not rape you. What about this moment?
Carol: [Attorney Roberta Kaplan] can explain the legal.
Journalist: Of course. And I want you to, but I’m just wondering, E. Jean, what went through your mind when you heard that?
Carroll: Well, I immediately say in my head, oh, yes, he did – oh, yes, he did. So that’s my answer.
According to Carroll’s motion, Trump is not alleging a key element of defamation: that statements made by Carroll were untrue.
“Trump is not alleging that Carroll lied about his own recollections,” the motion reads. “In other words, he’s not claiming that she lied when she told CNN reporters that she thought ‘oh, yes, he did – oh, yes, he did. “by listening to the jury’s verdict. Nor is Trump claiming that Carroll falsely told CNN reporters that the jury found Trump liable for rape. Instead, Trump is alleging that by reciting his own undisputed internal thoughts, Carroll falsely implied that Trump raped her.
The motion also argues that Trump did not present any facts to support his claim that Carroll spoke with “genuine malice” and that, in fact, she lacked the required state of mind to sustain a claim in court. defamation.
“Trump makes no allegation about Carroll’s own thought process when she made the allegedly defamatory statement,” the filing reads. “Nor does it offer any allegations intended to support an inferential finding of actual malice. Instead, the facts he pleads and the facts incorporated by reference in his pleading render implausible to conclude that Carroll acted with real malice […] Trump is not alleging that she lied or misrepresented her own memories.
Also on Tuesday, the Justice Department released a letter clarifying its position on Trump’s right to immunity under the federal Westfall Act, as he was president when he made the comments that were the subject of the Carroll’s first libel suit.
“[T]The Department determined that it did not have sufficient evidence to conclude that the former president was sufficiently motivated by an objective to serve the United States government to support a determination that he was acting within the scope of his employment when he denied sexually assaulting Ms. Carroll and made the other statements about Ms. Carroll that she disputed in this action,” the DOJ letter read. “Evidence of Mr. Trump’s state of mind, some of which was not revealed until after the Department last made a certification decision, does not establish that he made the statements in question for a “more than insignificant” purpose of serving the United States government.
As Law&Crime previously reported, the Justice Department was undecided about whether to support Trump in this case.
“We are grateful that the Department of Justice has reconsidered its position,” Kaplan said in a statement emailed to Law&Crime. “We have always believed that Donald Trump made his defamatory statements about our client in June 2019 out of personal animosity, ill will and spite, and not as President of the United States. Now that one of the final hurdles has been cleared, we look forward to trial in the original case of E Jean Carroll in January 2024.”
Read Carroll’s motion below.
Adam Klasfeld contributed to this report.
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