Writer E Jean Carroll had accused Trump of sexual assault and sued him for defamation when he belittled his claim.
U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland defended a Justice Department decision to continue representing Donald Trump a defamation suit carried by a woman who accused the former U.S. president of sexually assaulting her in the 1990s.
“The job of the Justice Department in making legal decisions is not to support any previous or current administration,” Garland said in an appearance before a U.S. Senate court on Wednesday.
“The essence of the rule of law … is that, like the cases, it is treated as if there is no rule for Democrats and another for Republicans that there is no rule for friends and another for the enemies, ”Garland said.
The Justice Department, which represents U.S. government officials in lawsuits related to their official duties, said this week that it does proceeding with his defense of the former president, which began under the previous administration.
“It is not always easy to apply this rule. Sometimes it means we have to make a decision about the law that we would never have made and we don’t agree with our policy, ”said Garland, who has received strong criticism for the decision.
Critics have argued that government attorneys should not be involved in Trump’s defense because the case concerns alleged personal conduct that took place before Trump ran for office.
In a letter to Garland, a group of 21 members of the U.S. House of Representatives said they opposed the decision. The department “shouldn’t spend taxpayer dollars to defend former President Trump from a defamation case … his decision to do so is profoundly wrong,” tweeted Congressman Jerry Nadler, a of the signatories.
“It wasn’t a situation where he used his office to advance and promote the interests of the United States,” Barb McQuade, a law professor at the University of Michigan, told MSNBC.
“He’s acting out of his own interest about something that happened in his private life 20 years earlier,” McQuade said.
Writer Jean Carroll had accused Trump in a 2019 magazine article on sexual assault in a New York City department store.
Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan said on June 8 that she was concerned about the Biden administration’s decision to support Trump in the case. “It’s horrible that Donald Trump raped E Jean Carroll in a department store in New York City many years ago,” Kaplan told Politico.
.@JusticeDept he should not spend taxpayer dollars to defend former President Trump from a defamation case filed by E. Jean Carroll. His decision to do so is profoundly wrong. pic.twitter.com/CkgrdvktGg
– Representative Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) June 9, 2021
“It’s really shocking that the current Justice Department is allowing Donald Trump to flee by lying about it, thus depriving our client of his day in court,” he said.
Asked about the allegation while he was president, Trump denied ever knowing Carroll and said his claim was a lie.
In a writ filed in federal court of appeals 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 supporting Trump’s conduct toward Carroll, although it claimed that a law regulating lawsuits against federal officials justified the government’s decision to take over the former president’s defense.
“When members of the White House media asked then-President Trump to respond to Carroll’s serious allegations of crimes, his questions were put to him in his capacity as president,” the department’s attorneys wrote in a statement. new court writ.
“Elected public officials may (and often must) address allegations related to personal crimes that inspire doubts about their suitability for the position.”