Trump Acted in 'Scope of His Office' in Calling E. Jean Carroll a 'Liar': DOJ Lawyers

The Justice Department decided that former President Donald Trump will not be held liable for his language used against E. Jean Carroll, a woman who accused him of rape, the Associated Press reported.

The government's lawyers said responding to misconduct allegations is part of the president's job, and since he responded while he was still president, he should not be held accountable. The defendant in the lawsuit would be the United States and not Trump.

"Calling a woman you sexually assaulted a 'liar,' a 'slut,' or 'not my type,' as Donald Trump did here, is not the official act of an American president," Carroll's attorney, Roberta Kaplan, responded.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

E Jean Carroll Women of Year 2019
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 10: E. Jean Carroll speaks onstage during the How to Write Your Own Life panel at the 2019 Glamour Women Of The Year Summit at Alice Tully Hall on November 10, 2019 in New York City. Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images

Former U.S. Attorney General William Barr's intervention last October was criticized on the campaign trail by then-Democratic candidate Joe Biden, who said it was inappropriate for the Justice Department to attempt to intervene in a private legal battle over Trump's personal conduct.

The Justice Department's consistency in sticking with the case, even after Trump lost the election, has been cited by some as proof that Biden is keeping his word that he won't try to influence the department's moves.

Kaplan said in a statement that it was "horrific" that Trump raped her client but it was "truly shocking that the current Department of Justice would allow Donald Trump to get away with lying about it, thereby depriving our client of her day in court."

"The DOJ's 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," she said.

In a statement, Carroll said: "As women across the country are standing up and holding men accountable for assault — the DOJ is trying to stop me from having that same right. I am angry! I am offended!"

Justice Department lawyers wrote that Trump was acting "within the scope of his office" in denying wrongdoing after White House reporters asked him about Carroll's claims.

They said: "Elected public officials can — and often must — address allegations regarding personal wrongdoing that inspire doubt about their suitability for office."

"Even reprehensible conduct ... can fall within the scope of employment," the lawyers wrote, conceding that Trump used "crude and disrespectful" language in questioning Carroll's credibility.

They said comments attacking her appearance, impugning her motives and implying she had made false accusations against others "were without question unnecessary and inappropriate." But they said they "all pertained to the denial of wrongdoing."

The papers were filed after the Justice Department appealed a decision by Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, who ruled in October that Trump cannot use a law protecting federal employees from being sued individually for things they do within the scope of their employment.

Arguments supporting the Justice Department's position were also filed Monday by a personal lawyer for Trump.

E. Jean Carroll Outside Courthouse
FILE - In this March 4, 2020, file photo, E. Jean Carroll talks to reporters outside a courthouse in New York. On Monday, June 7, 2021, Justice Department lawyers said former President Donald Trump cannot be held personally liable for “crude and disrespectful” remarks he made while president about Carroll, who accused him of rape. Seth Wenig/Associated Press