Donald Trump may soon have to answer rape allegations under oath

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  • Writer E Jean Carroll is looking forward to facing Donald Trump over rape allegations.
  • She is one of several women who accuse Trump of sexual misconduct.
  • Trump used the US Justice Department to defend him while in office as president.


During a December visit to New York City, writer E Jean Carroll says she went shopping with a fashion consultant to find the "best outfit" for one of the most important days of her life - when she'll sit face-to-face with the man she accuses of raping her decades ago, former US president Donald Trump.

READ | US Justice Department moves to defend Trump against rape accuser's defamation lawsuit

The author and journalist hopes that day will come this year.

Her lawyers are seeking to depose Trump in a defamation lawsuit that Carroll filed against the former president in November 2019 after he denied her accusation that he raped her at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s.

Trump said he never knew Carroll and accused her of lying to sell her new book, adding: "She's not my type."

She plans to be there if Trump is deposed.

"I am living for the moment to walk into that room to sit across the table from him," Carroll told Reuters in an interview. "I think of it every day."

Carroll, 77, a former Elle magazine columnist, seeks unspecified damages in her lawsuit and a retraction of Trump's statements.

'Only barrier'

It is one of two defamation cases involving sexual misconduct allegations against Trump that could move forward faster now that he has left the presidency.

While in office, Trump's lawyers delayed the case in part by arguing that the pressing duties of his office made responding to civil lawsuits impossible.

"The only barrier to proceeding with the civil suits was that he's the president," said Jennifer Rodgers, a former federal prosecutor and now an adjunct professor of clinical law at the New York University School of Law.

"I think there will be a sense among the judges that it's time to get a move on in these cases," said Roberta Kaplan, Carroll's attorney.

An attorney for Trump and another representative of the former president did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump faces a similar defamation lawsuit from Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his reality television show The Apprentice.

In 2016, Zervos accused Trump of sexual misconduct, saying that he kissed her against her will at a 2007 meeting in New York and later groped her at a California hotel as the two met to discuss job opportunities.

Trump denied the allegations and called Zervos a liar, prompting her to sue him for defamation in 2017, seeking damages and a retraction.

Trump tried unsuccessfully to have the case dismissed, arguing that, as president, he was immune from suits filed in state courts.

His lawyers appealed to the New York Court of Appeals, which is still considering the case. Zervos filed a motion in early February asking the court to resume the case now that Trump's no longer president.

Unusual step

Zervos and Carroll are among more than two dozen women who have publicly accused Trump of sexual misconduct that they say occurred in the years before he became president.

Other accusers include a former model who claims Trump sexually assaulted her at the 1997 US Open tennis tournament; a former Miss Universe pageant contestant who said Trump groped her in 2006; and a reporter who alleges Trump forcibly kissed her without her consent in 2005 at his Mar-a-Lago resort.

Trump has denied the allegations and called them politically motivated.

In September, after several unsuccessful attempts by Trump's lawyers to get Carroll’s case dismissed or delayed, US Justice Department officials under his administration took the unusual step of asking that the government be substituted for Trump as the defendant in the case.

Justice Department lawyers argued that Trump, like any typical government employee, is entitled under federal law to immunity from civil lawsuits when performing his job. They argued that he was acting in his capacity as president when he said Carroll was lying.

Legal experts said it was unprecedented for the Justice Department to defend a president for conduct before he took office.

When Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Federal District Court in Manhattan rejected that argument, the Justice Department appealed. The US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has yet to rule on it.

It's yet to be seen whether Justice Department officials under President Joe Biden, who took office last month, will continue to defend the case on Trump's behalf. The White House and the Justice Department declined to comment.

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