Former President Donald Trump has announced that he will appeal a $5 million judgment awarded to writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused him of sexually assaulting her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. The announcement came just days after Carroll revealed she is considering filing a new lawsuit against Trump, this time for defamation.
In November 2020, a New York judge ruled that Trump’s denials of Carroll’s allegations amounted to defamation and that he must pay her legal fees and other expenses. Trump’s lawyers are now seeking to have the judgment overturned on the grounds that he was acting in his official capacity as President when he made the statements in question.
Carroll’s lawyers argue that the appeal is without merit and that the case against Trump is strong. “The evidence shows that Donald Trump lied when he said that he never met E. Jean Carroll and that he had never sexually assaulted her,” they said in a statement. “We look forward to proving this in court once again.”
Carroll’s allegations first came to light in 2019, when she published an essay in New York magazine describing the alleged assault. Trump denied the allegations and claimed he had never even met Carroll, despite a photograph of the two of them together in the 1980s. Carroll then filed a defamation suit against Trump, arguing that his statements damaged her reputation and career.
The case is seen as a test of whether a sitting President can be sued for defamation, and whether he is immune from civil lawsuits related to his private conduct. The U.S. Department of Justice has intervened in the case on Trump’s behalf, arguing that he was acting in his official capacity when he made the statements and that therefore the government should be immune from liability.
Carroll’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, said in a statement that Trump’s appeal was “an attempt to further delay and obstruct justice and an insult to the rule of law.” She added, “We are confident that the Second Circuit will see through these arguments and uphold the district court’s decision.”
The new defamation suit that Carroll is considering would be based on Trump’s recent comments about her case, in which he called her a “liar” and a “fraud.” Carroll’s lawyers argue that these statements are not covered by the same legal protections as his earlier denials, which were made while he was President. They say that the new suit would seek to hold Trump accountable for his “vicious and false attacks” on Carroll’s character.