The Justice Department is appealing a court ruling that denied its move to substitute itself for President Donald Trump as the defendant in the defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, the former magazine columnist who has accused the President of raping her.
The appeal is a sign that the Justice Department is continuing to back Trump in court even after he lost the presidential election.
Last month, Judge Lewis Kaplan rejected the Justice Department’s attempt to replace Trump in the lawsuit. The Justice Department sought to intervene in the case, which, if approved, would have likely led to the dismissal of the case because the government cannot be sued for defamation.
“We are not at all surprised that the current Department of Justice, which filed its motion to intervene in E Jean Carroll’s case at the request of the White House, is appealing Judge Kaplan’s decision,” Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement.
She added, “From the very start of this case, Donald Trump’s number one goal has been to avoid discovery and cause delay.”
Carroll sued Trump alleging he defamed her when he denied the rape, said she wasn’t his type, and claimed she made the allegation to boost sales of her new book.
In his opinion, Kaplan rejected the Justice Department’s argument that Trump’s statements regarding Carroll were made within the scope of his employment, writing, “while commenting on the operation of government is part of the regular business of the United States, commenting on sexual assault allegations unrelated to the operation of government is not.”
Marc Kasowitz, a private attorney who had represented Trump earlier in the case, also said he was appealing the ruling.
Carroll has accused Trump of raping her in the mid-1990s in a New York department store. She has said she wants to obtain a sample of Trump’s DNA to compare with genetic material she says is on a black dress she wore the day of the alleged attack.
This story has been updated with a statement from Carroll’s attorney.