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A New York judge rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to dismiss columnist E. Jean Carroll’s defamation charges against him, only two days after Trump countersued her for defamation.
In a 46-page opinion, the judge refused to dismiss the case on any of Trump’s four grounds, including “absolute presidential immunity.”
“I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened, okay?” Trump told The Hill.
Last month, a jury found Trump guilty of sexually assaulting Carroll and also found Trump liable for defamation after he further denied Carroll’s claims in an October 2022 Truth Social post where he called Carroll’s claims “a hoax and a lie.”
Carroll recently filed a third defamation claim over further remarks Trump made about the incident in a CNN Town Hall in May, while Trump filed a countersuit against Carroll for defamation over a comment she made on CNN following the jury verdict claiming that Trump raped her when the jury had only found him liable for sexual assault.
Trump asked for a dismissal of the claims in part because he said he was guaranteed “non-waivable” presidential immunity, given that he made the comments while he was still president: Trump said he made the comments in 2019 because Carroll’s accusations “threatened his ability to effectively govern the nation.”
U.S. District Court Judge Lewis Kaplan concluded that Trump did not sufficiently demonstrate that Carroll’s comments could have harmed his ability to govern.
“Mr. Trump does not identify any connection between the allegedly defamatory content of his statements – that Ms. Carroll fabricated her sexual assault accusation and did so for financial and personal gain – to any official responsibility of the president,” Kaplan wrote.
Kaplan added that even if presidential immunity did apply, Trump “delayed unduly in raising his presidential immunity” by not invoking it at the time Carroll filed the suit, only raising it three years later.
In the ruling, Kaplan also mentioned another instance in which Trump’s actions as a president did not grant him absolute immunity — another federal judge, Amit Mehta, wrote that Trump’s January 6 speech to his supporters was not protected on the grounds of presidential immunity.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said the judge’s decision “removes one more impediment” to a January 15 trial.
“Trump chose to waive presidential immunity and now he must live with the results of that decision,” she said.
The judge’s rejection means that the case will likely go to trial, adding it onto the long list of pending cases against Trump, including an indictment by the Department of Justice over his alleged mishandling of classified documents.