Donald Trump is opposing any changes to writer E. Jean Carroll’s remaining defamation lawsuit — and his lawyers are taking special issue with Carroll’s side editing out the word “rape.”
Removing “rape” and substituting it with the words “sexual assault,” as Carroll’s lawyers seek to do, would “severely and unduly prejudice” Trump, his lawyers argued in a new court filing on Friday.
That’s because Trump intends to fight Carroll’s remaining case by arguing he couldn’t have defamed her when he said she lied when she accused him of rape — because a previous jury has now rejected that claim, the new filing says.
Carroll’s proposed amended complaint “substitutes every reference of the word ‘rape’ and replaces it with ‘sexual assault,’” Trump attorney Alina Habba writes in the filing, addressed to US District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan, the presiding judge for Carroll’s two defamation suits.
“Plaintiff’s position on this issue is clearly untenable,” Habba’s filing says, accusing Carroll’s side of trying to retrofit the remaining lawsuit to reflect a May 9 jury verdict that cleared Trump of rape while finding him liable for sexual assault and defamation.
In 2019, Carroll, a longtime magazine advice columnist, publicly accused Trump of raping her in a Manhattan department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. He has repeatedly denied the allegations.
She sued Trump twice for defamation after he repeatedly called her a liar.
Her first lawsuit was filed in federal court in Manhattan in 2020 and remains unresolved. It accuses Trump of defaming Carroll in statements he made in 2019, while still president. The lawsuit has remained in legal limbo, with Trump arguing that he cannot be sued for statements made in his official presidential capacity.
In her second lawsuit, also filed in federal court in Manhattan, Carroll accused Trump of battery — saying he sexually assaulted and raped her — and accused Trump of then defaming her in statements he made after his presidency.
In that case, a federal jury in Manhattan found Trump indeed defamed and sexually abused Carroll and approved $5 million in damages. The jury stopped short of finding Trump liable for actual rape.
The day after the verdict, which Trump is appealing, he went on CNN and repeated some of the same defamatory statements.
Now, Carroll is seeking additional damages, and to amend the lawsuit’s language to reflect Trump’s more recent statements and the May 9 verdict.
It’s not clear when the judge will rule on Carroll’s requested amendments; a lawyer for Carroll did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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