Garland defends DOJ move to represent Trump in defamation case

Writer E Jean Carroll accused Trump of sexual harassment and sued for defamation over his dismissal of the claim.

United States Attorney General Merrick Garland defends a Justice Department decision to continue to represent Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused the former US president of sexual assault in the 1990s .

“The Justice Department’s job in deciding the law is not to endorse any past or current administration,” Garland said in an appearance before a US Senate panel on Wednesday.

“The essence of the rule of law … is that matters are treated as such, that there is no rule for Democrats and no rules for Republicans, that there is one rule for friends and another for enemies,” Garland he said.

The Justice Department, which represents US government officials in lawsuits related to their official duties, said this week it was proceeding with the former president’s defense, which began under the previous administration.

“It’s not always easy to enforce that rule. Sometimes it means we have to make decisions about a law that we would never have made and we strongly disagree on a matter of policy,” Garland said, who have come under sharp criticism for the decision.

Critics have argued that public prosecutors should not be involved in defending Trump because the case pertains to alleged personal conduct that occurred before Trump ran for office.

In a letter to Garland, a group of 21 members of the US House of Representatives said they objected to the decision. Congressman Jerry Nadler, one of the signatories, tweeted, “Department should not spend taxpayer dollars protecting former President Trump from a defamation case… his decision to do so is deeply misguided.”

“This was not a situation where he was using his office to pursue and advance the interests of the United States,” Barb McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan, told US news outlet MSNBC.

“He is acting out of self-interest about something that happened in his personal life 20 years ago,” McQuade said.

Writer E Jean Carroll in a 2019 magazine article accused Trump of sexual harassment at a New York City department store.

Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, said on June 8 that she was upset by the Biden administration’s decision to support Trump in the case. “It’s horrible that Donald Trump raped E. Jean Carroll in a New York City department store many years ago,” Kaplan told Politico.

“It’s really shocking that the current Department of Justice would allow Donald Trump to lie about it, thereby depriving our client of his day in court,” she said.

When asked about the allegations while he was president, Trump denied knowing Carroll, saying his claim was a lie.

In a brief filed with a federal appeals court on June 7, Justice Department lawyers took the same legal position that the department had asserted when Trump was president.

The Justice Department argued that it was not endorsing Trump’s conduct toward Carroll, although it insisted on legislation governing lawsuits against federal officials, which would justify the government’s move to handle the former president’s defense. holds.

“When members of the White House media asked then-President Trump to respond to Ms. Carroll’s serious allegations of wrongdoing, her questions were asked of her as president,” the department’s lawyers wrote in the new court brief.

“Elected public officials can—and often should—address allegations of personal wrongdoing that inspire doubts about their suitability for office.”


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