The Biden administration has received a mixed reaction over its apparent involvement in a defamation case stemming from a rape allegation against former President Donald Trump.
According to The Hill, attorneys from the Department of Justice filed a brief this week with a federal appeals court revealing that it backed Trump’s defense against the lawsuit, noting that the allegedly defamatory remarks were made while the ex-president was conducting his official duties.
“The independence of the Department of Justice”
The situation dates back to accusations by writer E. Jean Carroll that came in a New York article about two years ago that Trump raped her in a department store dressing room decades earlier.
In response, Trump issued a firm denial of any such behavior, even claiming that he never met Carroll. He sparked more controversy by declaring that she is not his “type.”
That line prompted Carroll to file a defamation suit against Trump.
While the Justice Department made it clear that it did not endorse Trump’s response, the argument conceded that various laws preclude defamation lawsuits against government officials.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki attempted to distance Biden from the situation, asserting: “The president strongly believes in the independence of the Department of Justice.”
“Not only legally wrong”
She went on to note that the Justice Department had not consulted with the White House on its stance on the matter.
Unsurprisingly, Carroll’s attorney called the latest development “truly shocking” in a statement denouncing the Justice Department’s position.
“It is horrific that Donald Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in a New York City department store many years ago,” said Roberta Kaplan.
She accused the Justice Department of allowing the former president “to get away with lying about it, thereby depriving our client of her day in court,” alleging that the position “is not only legally wrong, it is morally wrong since it would give federal officials free license to cover up private sexual misconduct by publicly brutalizing any woman who has the courage to come forward.”
The Justice Department under the Trump administration was criticized for using government lawyers to intervene in the case, prompting many of the same critics to express dismay that the Biden administration is taking a similar stance.