The Trump Defamation Lawsuit: A Battle for Immunity

In a recent development, a federal appeals court has rejected former President Donald Trump’s request to delay a defamation lawsuit filed against him by writer E. Jean Carroll. However, the court has granted an expedited appeal on the issue of whether Trump can claim absolute presidential immunity as a defense. While this offers a partial victory for Trump, who has faced a series of legal setbacks in multiple lawsuits, the battle is far from over.

The 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals, in its order, consolidated two pending appeals by Trump and instructed both parties to submit legal briefs within the next 35 days. This signifies that the appeals will be heard promptly, potentially even before the scheduled trial in mid-January at the U.S. District Court in Manhattan. The decisive ruling by the three-judge panel would have a significant impact on the upcoming trial.

Meanwhile, the recent ruling by a federal district court judge holds Trump civilly liable for defamatory statements he made about Carroll in 2019. The upcoming trial will now solely delve into the issue of determining the amount of monetary damages Trump should pay to Carroll. Robbie Kaplan, Carroll’s lawyer, expressed her anticipation for the January 15 trial on damages and the opportunity to present arguments on Trump’s claim of presidential immunity to the Second Circuit.

Throughout this legal battle, Trump’s legal maneuvers have faced criticism. Kaplan has accused him of playing legal games by raising the claim of absolute presidential immunity late in the game, as the case approached trial and previous rulings favored Carroll. Trump’s repeated appeals against adverse rulings have been seen as an attempt to delay the proceedings. However, there has been no immediate response from Trump’s legal team regarding the recent court order.

It is essential to note that in a separate lawsuit, a jury in Manhattan federal court had awarded Carroll $5 million in damages after finding Trump guilty of sexual abuse and defamation. This case revolves around an encounter in a New York department store in the mid-1990s. Trump has persistently denied Carroll’s allegations of sexual assault, and he is currently appealing the verdict.

The lawsuit that remains scheduled for trial accuses Trump of defaming Carroll in 2019 when he initially denied her claim of rape. The case faced multiple delays, including an effort by the Department of Justice (DOJ) to dismiss the lawsuit by arguing for Trump’s immunity as president. However, in a significant shift, the DOJ recently dropped its efforts after a ruling by a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., suggested that Trump could be personally sued if his statements did not serve the purpose of the U.S. government. The DOJ also noted that Trump’s alleged defamatory statements continued even after he left the White House.

As the defamation lawsuit proceeds, the battle for presidential immunity takes center stage. Both sides will present their arguments before the panel of three appeals judges, who will have the authority to rule on Trump’s claim prior to the trial’s commencement. It remains to be seen how this pivotal legal question will ultimately be resolved and what impact it will have on the upcoming trial.

The recent denial of a delay in the defamation lawsuit filed against Donald Trump by E. Jean Carroll signifies a small triumph for the former president. However, the expedited appeal on presidential immunity raises crucial legal questions that will be instrumental in shaping the future of the trial. As the legal battle continues, the case remains a focal point in the ongoing debate surrounding accountability and immunity for public officials.


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