On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that President Trump could be personally tried for defamation in connection with his denial while in office for decades for alleged rape.
The judge, Louis A. Kaplan of the Manhattan Federal District Court, dismissed the Justice Department’s attempt to enter the case and defend the president, and his decision means that a lawsuit by writer E. Jean Carroll could be filed against Mr. Trump, as a private citizen.
Ms. Carol accused Mr. Trump of raping her in the dressing room of a department store in the 1990s. Her lawsuit alleges that he damaged her reputation when he denied the attack last year and called her a liar.
Under that law, the Federal Disability Claims Act, the department seeks to move Ms. Carol’s case to federal court and replace the United States with Mr. Trump as defendant, a move that would likely lead to the charges being dropped.
While the Department of Justice used the law to protect members of Congress from defamation lawsuits because of the things they said, the Department rarely, if ever, used it to grant immunity to a president.
However, Judge Kaplan ruled the department’s maneuver, saying Mr. Trump did not act in his official capacity when he denied the charge. “His comments referred to alleged sexual violence committed several decades before he took office, and the allegations have nothing to do with the official business of the United States,” the judge wrote.