OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author’s opinion
For the second time in a week, the Department of Justice has sided with Donald Trump.
Joe Biden’s DOJ told a federal appeals court on Monday that the U.S. government — not Trump — should be the defendant in a defamation lawsuit filed while he was still in office by a woman who claims she was sexually assaulted.
Trump’s response to E. Jean Carroll’s allegations was made in his official duties as president and therefore shift any liability to the government, DOJ lawyers wrote in taking the same position as Trump’s lawyers last year.
The filing is remarkable because then-candidate Joe Biden criticized Trump’s position during the 2020 campaign, only to have his own DOJ come to the same legal conclusion.
“Then-President Trump’s response to Ms. Carroll’s serious allegations of sexual assault included statements that questioned her credibility in terms that were crude and disrespectful,” Justice Department lawyers wrote in a brief to the Second US Circuit Court of Appeals.
“But this case does not concern whether Mr. Trump’s response was appropriate. Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms. Carroll’s allegations,” the lawyers added.
Rather, the lawyers argued, the issue before the appeals court is one where liability rests when a government official makes statements during the normal course of the work.
“Speaking to the public and the press on matters of public concern is undoubtedly part of an elected official’s job,” the government lawyers wrote. “Courts have thus consistently and repeatedly held that allegedly defamatory statements made in that context are within the scope of elected officials’ employment — including when the statements were prompted by press inquiries about the official’s private life.”
This is the second time the DOJ has sided with Trump.
Earlier this month, the DOJ requested a federal judge toss out cases against Trump, former Attorney General Bill Barr, and other Trump-era officials for their actions that day at Lafayette Park.
The D.C. branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter, and other civil liberties groups had accused Trump and Barr of involvement in the decision of the police to use pepper spray, smoke balls, and other aggressive measures to clear the Washington, D.C. park before Trump walked across the square to get a photograph holding a bible in front of St. John’s, and half an hour before a city-wide curfew.
The conflict was less than a week after the death of George Floyd in 2020.
Justice Department attorneys argued that Trump and other officials are immune from responsibility for police actions taken to protect a sitting president and that the case is moot because the suit is personal to Trump, Barr, and others who are now out of office.
U.S. District Judge Dabney L. Friedrich seemed responsive to the government’s request.
“You’ve got to wonder why he went at that point, but it’s certainly a security risk for the president to walk to the park,” Friedrich said, agreeing with the need to clear the park to ensure the president’s safety.
Gregory Monahan, acting chief of police at the time, defended the forceful removal of protesters, saying his officers acted with “tremendous restraint.”
Author: Martin Walsh
Source: Conservative Brief : Biden Justice Department Sides With Trump In Defamation Lawsuit