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Legal battle ensues as Trump appeals court ruling in E. Jean Carroll’s rape accusation case.

US Court Questions Trump’s Delay in Claiming Absolute Immunity in Defamation Lawsuit

Trump’s Immunity Defense Questioned by Appeals Court

A federal appeals court in Manhattan has raised questions about former president Donald Trump’s decision to wait over three years before asserting absolute immunity in a defamation lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll, who accused Trump of rape. Two of the three judges on the panel challenged Trump’s lawyer during oral arguments, questioning the timing of the immunity claim. Trump’s lawyer argued that presidential immunity is an “absolute and nonwaivable protection” that cannot be overridden by judges.

Background of the Lawsuit

E. Jean Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist, filed a lawsuit against Trump in November 2019, alleging that he had raped her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. Trump denied the allegations, stating that Carroll was “not his type” and suggesting that she fabricated the claims for personal gain. The lawsuit has faced several pivotal rulings, including the dismissal of some of Trump’s defenses and a defamation counterclaim against Carroll.

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Trump’s Appeal and Trial Date

Trump is appealing the refusal to dismiss Carroll’s lawsuit and the ruling that his denial was defamatory. The trial is scheduled for January 2024, with Carroll seeking at least $10 million in damages. In a separate trial, Carroll was awarded $5 million for sexual assault and defamation, but not rape. Trump is also appealing that verdict.

Arguments in Court

During the recent arguments, Trump’s lawyer claimed that Trump acted within the scope of his presidential duties by responding to Carroll’s accusations. He argued that denying immunity would disrupt the constitutional separation of powers. However, the judges raised concerns about the timing of Trump’s immunity claim, questioning why he waited so long to assert this defense.

Carroll’s Response

Carroll’s lawyer dismissed the notion that Trump could not waive absolute immunity, stating that it was “hokum.” He argued that Trump’s behavior throughout the case contradicted his claim of immunity.

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Appeals Court Decision

The appeals court did not indicate when it will issue its ruling on Trump’s appeal. If the court agrees with the judge’s ruling, Trump may be required to pay damages and costs.

Trump’s Legal Challenges

Despite facing multiple criminal indictments, Trump is currently the frontrunner for the Republican nomination in the 2024 U.S. presidential election. He is also a defendant in a civil fraud trial, accused of inflating his assets and net worth unlawfully. Trump has pleaded not guilty in the criminal cases.

The case is Carroll v. Trump, 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Nos. 23-1045 and 23-1146.

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