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Judge denies Trump request to pause rape defamation lawsuit by E. Jean Carroll pending appeal

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E. Jean Carroll visits ‘Tell Me Everything’ with John Fugelsang in the SiriusXM Studios on July 11, 2019 in New York.

Noam Galai | Getty Images

A federal judge Wednesday denied a request by a lawyer for former President Donald Trump to continue pausing a lawsuit that accuses him of defaming writer E. Jean Carroll after she claimed he raped her decades ago in New York City.

The decision appears to allow for proceedings and filings to restart in the Manhattan federal district court case even as Trump and the U.S. Department of Justice continue pursuing an appeal of an earlier ruling in the case to a higher court.

Those proceedings, which had effectively been on hold since late last year, could include questioning of Trump by lawyers for Carroll in advance of a possible trial, as well as the exchange of evidentiary documents by the parties.

Judge Lewis Kaplan’s order Wednesday came nine months after Trump’s lawyer Marc Kasowitz first asked him to “immediately stay all proceedings in the case,” while Trump and the DOJ appealed a prior ruling by Kaplan.

Kaplan in that October ruling had rejected a request by the DOJ to remove Trump as the defendant in the case, and substitute the U.S. government as the defendant.

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The DOJ has argued that it should be the sole defendant, since Trump was acting as a government employee when he claimed that Carroll was lying and motivated by money when she alleged in a July 2019 article that he sexually assaulted her in a dressing room in the Bergdorf Goodman department store in 1995 or 1996.

The DOJ’s request, if it prevailed, would effectively kill Carroll’s lawsuit because the government would not waive its sovereign immunity protection from being sued.

Kaplan flatly rejected the DOJ’s argument in his ruling in October.

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“The President of the United States is not an employee of the Government within the meaning of the relevant statutes,” Kaplan wrote in his decision then.

“Even if he were such an employee, President Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements concerning Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment,” the judge wrote.

However, since Kaplan’s ruling in October, there had not been any substantial hearings, depositions or filings in the case, other than the bid by Trump’s lawyer to formally stay the proceedings, and Carroll’s opposition to that request.

Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan, asked about the judge’s decision Wednesday denying a stay in the case, said in an email, “We are reviewing Judge Kaplan’s order.”

Trump’s lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Kaplan’s order, which itself might become the subject of an appeal.

The appeal of Kaplan’s original decision to deny the DOJ’s request to replace Trump as a defendant is continuing in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in Manhattan.

Oral arguments in the appeal are scheduled for Nov. 29.

“We’re looking forward to oral argument,” Kaplan told CNBC.

Carroll wrote Elle magazine’s “Ask E. Jean” advice column for more than a quarter-century before the magazine fired her in early 2020.

Her past writing for NBC’s “Saturday Night Live” garnered her an Emmy nomination, and she is the author of books about gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson, and as well as a book that included her claim about Trump, “What Do We Need Men For: A Modest Proposal.”

In addition to Carroll, multiple other women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct. He has denied all such claims.



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