Wednesday saw a U.S. appeals court decision denying Donald Trump the ability to assert presidential immunity in a defamation lawsuit filed by writer E. Jean Carroll. The writer had accused him of rape. This ruling represents another legal setback for the former U.S. president.
The federal judge’s decision to dismiss Trump’s immunity claim was affirmed by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan. They concluded that Trump had delayed raising it as a defense for too long.
Alina Habba, one of Trump’s attorneys in the case, criticized the ruling as “fundamentally flawed” and stated that Trump intends to promptly request a review from the Supreme Court.
In the lawsuit, Carroll aimed to secure a minimum of $10 million in compensation from Trump regarding statements he made in June 2019 during his presidency. These comments followed her public accusation of him raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room during the mid-1990s.
Trump refuted knowing Carroll, asserted she didn’t match his “type,” and alleged that she fabricated the rape accusation to boost attention for her forthcoming memoir.
In November 2019, the former Elle magazine columnist initiated the lawsuit. However, Trump didn’t claim absolute presidential immunity shielding him from the lawsuit until December 2022. This doctrine provides a president with complete immunity from various civil lawsuits during their tenure.
In June, U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan in Manhattan dismissed Trump’s attempt to dismiss Carroll’s case. Judge Kaplan also declined Trump’s request to bring up an immunity defense, citing the delayed attempt to invoke it and emphasizing the importance of public accountability.
On Wednesday, the 2nd Circuit affirmed the correctness of those rulings. Trump’s appeal was fast-tracked, preceding a scheduled trial on Jan. 16, 2024.
He has employed a comparable immunity defense in his federal criminal case in Washington, where he faces accusations of unlawfully attempting to overturn his loss in the 2020 presidential election.