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ACHTUNG! BREAKING! It is not, in fact, the job of the president of the United States to defame women who accuse him of sexual assault. So if you're electing a president to say women are too ugly to bother raping, then perhaps you do want to change your vote after all.

Yesterday US District Judge Lewis A. Kaplan dropkicked Attorney General Bill Barr's motion to substitute the federal government as defendant in author E. Jean Carroll's defamation suit against the president, who responded to her allegation that he sexually assaulted her years ago by sneering, "I'll say it with great respect: Number one, she's not my type. Number two, it never happened. It never happened."

I've never met this person in my life. She is trying to sell a new book – that should indicate her motivation. It should be sold in the fiction section. Shame on those who make up false stories of assault to try to get publicity for themselves, or sell a book, or carry out a political agenda – like Julie Swetnick who falsely accused Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It's just as bad for people to believe it, particularly when there is zero evidence. Worse still for a dying publication to try to prop itself up by peddling fake news – it's an epidemic.

Ms. Carroll & New York Magazine: No pictures? No surveillance? No video? No reports? No sales attendants around?? I would like to thank Bergdorf Goodman for confirming that they have no video footage of any such incident, because it never happened.

BLAH BLAH BLAH.


Carroll sued for defamation in November of 2019, and Trump's personal lawyers dicked around for 10 months trying to avoid discovery. When a New York state court finally ordered the president to cough it up — literally, since Carroll is seeking to match his DNA to a sample found on the dress she wore the day of the alleged assault — Bill Barr busted in like the Kool-Aid man to save the day. And by "save" we mean remove the case to federal court and substitute the United States as defendant under the Federal Tort Claims Act.

See, the FTCA protects federal employees from being personally sued for things they did on the job. But Uncle Sam only agrees to be sued for certain types of harm, and defamation ain't one of 'em. So if the government succeeds in transforming this case from Carroll v. Trump to Carroll v. United States, the whole thing will vanish in a cloud of smoke.

Check out the docket entry where the Southern District of New York told the Justice Department to quit trying to pull a fast one by refiling the case with Borat's beloved "U.S. and A" as defendant.

Nice try, assholes.

The government argued that talking shit about women is part of the president's official duties, actually, because, ummm, reassuring the public of his qualifications is part of the job. How does calling a woman a liar and serial fabricator of false allegations bolster his own character in the eyes of the public? Well, that's not entirely clear! At any rate, the court rejected the argument, noting that it would be a get-out-of-tort free card for every government official to say any defamatory thing about a citizen who voiced criticism.

Accepting it would mean that a president is free to defame anyone who criticizes his conduct or impugns his character – without adverse consequences to that president and no matter what injury he inflicts on the person defamed. Indeed, the same would be true for many government officials, who plausibly could argue that criticism of their behavior or character, even if completely unrelated to their government employment, would undermine their ability to perform effectively while in office.

But as a threshold matter, the court ruled that the FTCA doesn't apply anyway, since the president is not a government "employee." Not under federal law, and not under statute in the District of Columbia, where the alleged defamation took place. Without descending too deep into legalese, essentially Trump has no boss, cannot be fired, and cannot be controlled by the federal government, so he fails to meet the definition of an employee under the FTCA or DC statute.

Multiple precedents, including Clinton v. Jones, dictate that a sitting president can be sued for defamation regarding a sexual assault alleged to have taken place before he took office. And, as Judge Kaplan notes unsubtly, the Justice Department has spent the past four years arguing that Trump is King of Kings and Lord of Lords — aka the unitary executive theory — including in this very case where he insisted for months that he was absolutely immune from civil suit while in office. So coming before the court to argue that Donald Trump is but a humble servant of this great and mighty nation is fucking rich.

Probably shouldn't have blarped "I have an Article II, where I have to the right to do whatever I want as president!" all those times if he wanted to claim to be an "employee."

Safe bet that Trump and Barr will try to drag this shit out forever — or at least as long as they control the Justice Department.

SIX MORE DAYS.

[Carroll v. Trump, Opinion]

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Liz Dye

Liz Dye lives in Baltimore with her wonderful husband and a houseful of teenagers. When she isn't being mad about a thing on the internet, she's hiding in plain sight in the carpool line. She's the one wearing yoga pants glaring at her phone.

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