The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to take over the defense of President Donald Trump in a defamation suit brought by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who claims Trump raped her two decades ago.
In a court filing Tuesday, the Justice Department said Trump was acting “within the scope” of his job as president when he said Carroll lied about the incident, prompting her lawsuit. The U.S. also moved the case to Manhattan federal court from a New York state court, where a judge last month denied his request to stall the suit.
The move could further delay a suit that was to soon have entered the evidence-gathering phase. Carroll is seeking to take the president’s deposition and force him to provide a DNA sample from a dress she claims she was wearing at the time of the alleged attack. It also comes as the Trump campaign has reportedly been facing a cash crunch due in part to its spending on legal fees in suits against the president.
Trump has been represented in the case by his longtime lawyer Marc Kasowitz.
“Because President Trump was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the plaintiff’s claim arose, the United States will file a motion to substitute itself for President Trump in this action” for claims falling under the Federal Tort Claims Act, a Justice Department team led by Acting Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark.
The Federal Tort Claims Act provides for suits against the government.
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