Trump has no immunity from second E. Jean Carroll lawsuit, Justice Department says

July13, 2023

On Tuesday, July 11, the Justice Department reversed a holding first made by the agency during Donald Trump’s term in office—saying that the ex-president is not immune from a second defamation suit by writer E. Jean Carroll, reports USA Today.

Carroll, who in May won a $5 million judgment against Trump for sexual abuse and defamation, has another defamation suit pending against him for comments he made about her after the case was closed.

The letter clears the way for another defamation trial against Trump, currently scheduled to begin in January.

Carroll wrote about Trump’s alleged sexual assault in a 2019 memoiraccusing him of attacking her in a New York department store more than 20 years ago. The case has been mired down in appeals, many of them involving the question of Trump’s legal standing as president.

In its letter and a court filing, the Justice Department also said new evidence against Trump has surfaced since he left office—citing the recent civil trial and harsh comments that Trump made about Carroll after the verdict.

The new evidence “supports an inference that … Trump was motivated by a ‘personal grievance’ stemming from events that occurred many years prior to … Trump’s presidency,” the Justice Department said. 

The reversal also means the Justice Department will not help defend Trump at the upcoming defamation trial, although few have predicted such a move.

Trump has alleged he did not know Carroll and accused her of making up a story to hurt him politically. The former president protested Carroll’s legal action in a Truth Social post early Wednesday, alleging “The Carroll civil case against me is a Miscarriage of Justice and a total Scam.”

After a civil trial in New York that focused on the 1996 incident itself, a jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse and defamation, assessing damages adding up to $5 million. Trump has appealed that verdict.

Carroll has since requested more damages over comments Trump made since the trial. Trump, meanwhile, has countersued Carroll and is seeking to dismiss the second defamation case.

Research contact: @USATODAY