Former President Donald Trump experienced a significant legal setback as a federal appeals court dismissed his attempt to assert presidential immunity in a civil defamation lawsuit filed by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll.
The judges ruled that Trump had effectively waived the use of presidential immunity as a defense by not raising it earlier in the legal proceedings. Carroll had accused Trump of defamation during his presidency when he denied her allegations of sexual assault.
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, December 13, the federal appeals court’s rejection of Trump’s claim of presidential immunity in E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit.
In a ruling addressing a unique legal question, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision to reject Trump’s motion for summary judgment.
“This case presents a vexing question of first impression: whether presidential immunity is waivable. We answer in the affirmative and further hold that Donald J. Trump (‘Defendant’) waived the defense of presidential immunity by failing to raise it as an affirmative defense in his answer to E. Jean Carroll’s (‘Plaintiff’s’) complaint,” the court declared.
As the case is scheduled to proceed to trial in January, Carroll’s attorney, Robbie Kaplan, expressed satisfaction with the Second Circuit’s decision.
“We are pleased that the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Kaplan’s rulings, and that we can now move forward with the trial next month on January 16,” Kaplan remarked.
Conversely, Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, criticized the ruling, stating, “The Second Circuit’s ruling is fundamentally flawed, and we will seek immediate review from the Supreme Court.”
This legal battle is not unfamiliar terrain for Carroll and Trump. In 2022, Carroll separately sued Trump for sexual assault and defamation under the Adult Survivors Act, concerning statements made after he left office.
The trial concluded with a jury finding Trump liable and awarding Carroll $5 million in damages. The original lawsuit, initiated in 2019, revolves around similar statements Trump made while president in that same year.
This case, now focused on damages, is also slated to go to trial in January. As the legal proceedings unfold, the intricacies of presidential immunity, its waiver, and the broader implications for high-profile figures embroiled in such controversies continue to captivate legal observers and the public alike.
The impending trial in January holds the promise of shedding further light on this complex legal saga.