The Biden administration is supporting former President Donald Trump's position that he qualified as a government employee under a law that would let him to dodge a defamation suit by E. Jean Carroll, the ny advice columnist who claims he raped her two decades ago. "Neither the media reports nor the underlying allegations have any relationship to his official duties", U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of NY wrote in an opinion in October.
Carroll sued the then-president for defamation, but the suit has been caught up in litigation since the Trump-era Justice Department attempted to step in on Trump's behalf and make the government the defendant instead of the now-former president.
If the government succeeds, Carroll's lawsuit filed in state court will remain federal jurisdiction, where it is unlikely to survive. Under Barr, the Justice Department had argued that because a president is a government employee and that the president's public comments are a function of the job, the federal government should protect the president in such a case.
The guidelines say that prosecutors must notify news organizations before seeking records of contacts between reporters and their sources unless the attorney general determines that notification would threaten the integrity of the investigation, risk grave harm to national security or present an imminent risk of death or serious bodily injury.
Abrams countered that "to bash them they way you just did on CNN" is unfair, "when what they're doing is taking a principled legal decision, and I fear that you are responding with just a hint of politics".
Abrams jumped in and asked, "Why should the Department of Justice be putting down markers as opposed to doing what it views as the right thing?"
The department, now headed by Merrick Garland, stressed that Trump's comments, made in an interview, were within the scope of his duties.
The DOJ said it did not endorse Trump's statements about Carroll, calling them "crude" and "disrespectful", but argued that Trump acted "within the scope of his office" in denying the allegation.
Donald Trump's comment - in particular, his comment "she's not my type" - is so offensive, that to me, this is nearly the equivalent of, in a First Amendment case, defending the right of people who say frightful things to say awful things.
Though Carroll's lawyer expressed confidence in the appeal, the Justice Department's move will further delay resolution Carroll's litigation.
"But this case does not concern whether Mr Trump's response was appropriate".
"It is horrific that Donald Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in a New York City department store many years ago".
As a proud Justice Department alumnus, I respect that Garland is an institutionalist.
Barr prepared a four-page letter purportedly describing the report's "principal conclusions" that the Trump campaign did not collude with Russian Federation and that Mueller would not charge Trump with obstruction of justice. Additionally, in Honig's view, the DOJ has not been aggressive enough against those believed to have planned and aided the January 6th attack on the Capitol.