Former US President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held at the Hilton Anatole on August 6, 2022 in Dallas, Texas. Established in 1974, CPAC is a conference that brings together and hosts conservative organizations, activists and world leaders to discuss current events and future political agendas.
Brandon Bell | Getty Images
Former President Donald Trump was removed from office on Wednesday in a civil lawsuit alleging he defamed writer E. Jean Carroll after she accused him of raping her, her representation confirmed.
“We are pleased that we were able to accept Donald Trump’s testimony today on behalf of our client E. Jean Carroll. We cannot comment further on this,” a spokesman for Kaplan Hecker & Fink said in a statement.
Trump lost his bid on Oct. 12 to delay the sworn questioning by Carroll’s attorneys when a federal judge brushed aside arguments that a pending appeal in the lawsuit warranted a stay of the case.
The timing of Trump’s ouster and its location were not immediately available Wednesday.
“As we have said throughout, my client was pleased to clarify the matter today. This case is nothing more than a political ploy like many others in the long list of witch hunts against Donald Trump,” Trump’s attorney Alina Habba said in a statement.
Carroll was supposed to have been removed from the case last Friday.
A trial in the case is scheduled for February.
Even if that trial is stayed or canceled altogether due to the pending appeal, Carroll plans to sue the 76-year-old Trump next month in New York state court under a new law that removes the statute of limitations on claims of rape and sexual abuse.
Carroll’s attorneys could use Trump’s Wednesday testimony in this proposed lawsuit.
The deposition comes two months after Trump refused to answer questions under oath in a attorneys’ deposition for New York Attorney General Letitia James related to a civil investigation by his firm, the Trump Organization. Trump invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination more than 440 times in that statement.
James last month sued Trump, his company, three of his adult children and others over widespread fraud involving allegedly false financial statements related to the company’s business. In this case, James is demanding damages of at least 250 million US dollars as well as sanctions.
Carroll, 78, accused Trump in a 2019 New Yorker magazine article of raping her in a fitting room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in the mid-1990s after a chance store encounter.
Trump, who was President at the time the article appeared, responded that Carroll was lying and was motivated by money and political considerations to fabricate the account.
Carroll then sued Trump in New York state court for defamation.
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The case was referred to the US District Court in Manhattan a year later when the Justice Department, then under the control of Trump-appointed Attorney General William Barr, attempted to replace Trump as a defendant in the case. The department argued that because Trump was president at the time he allegedly defamed Carroll, the government had the power to step in and stand as an accused because he was a government employee.
If the DOJ were allowed to do so, it would effectively end the lawsuit. Under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the federal government has the power to deny plaintiffs the right to sue them.
Judge Lewis Kaplan declined that offer. “The President of the United States is not an employee of the government within the meaning of applicable law,” he said in a ruling.
“Even if he were such an employee, President Trump’s allegedly defamatory statements about Ms. Carroll would not have been within the scope of his employment,” wrote Kaplan, who is not related to Carroll’s attorney.
The DOJ appealed Kaplan’s decision.
In September, the US Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed Kaplan’s ruling on whether Trump was acting as a government employee at the time he responded to Carroll’s article. But the Court of Appeals also asked its sister Court of Appeals in Washington, DC to rule on whether Trump made the statements about Carroll in the course of his employment, as defined by local District of Columbia law.
The DC Circuit Court of Appeals has not yet ruled on that issue.
Kaplan said in his ruling last week that Trump does not have the authority to defer testimony pending the DC court decision because he has not shown the required high probability of success on the issue.
Kaplan also wrote that there is reason to believe Trump is continuing to use delaying tactics in the lawsuit, and that the “advanced age” of both Trump and Carroll is a reason not to further delay action in the case.
“The defendant should not be allowed to time out the plaintiff’s attempt to obtain a remedy for an allegedly serious wrongdoing,” Kaplan wrote.