A New York state judge ruled Thursday that a defamation lawsuit filed against President Donald Trump by journalist and columnist E. Jean Carroll—who last year accused Trump of raping her in the 1990s—can proceed while an appeals court weighs a separate, similar case of another woman who has accused the president of sexual assault.
Trump, who has denied both allegations, sought a stay in Carroll's case while awaiting a decision in a suit filed against the president by Summer Zervos, a former contestant on his television show "The Apprentice" who says Trump assaulted her in 2007. The president's lawyers argue he is immune from suits filed in state court while in office.
As the Washington Post reported:
Thursday's ruling means that in the coming weeks and months, Carroll's legal team can press forward with seeking Trump's DNA, which they hope to compare to genetic material on the dress she said she wore during the incident, and with trying to interview Trump under oath. Trump can also seek depositions from Carroll and those she says she told about the incident. Saunders scheduled a telephone conference in the case for September 30.
Carroll and her supporters welcomed Saunders's decision on Twitter:
(This is the 2nd great ruling by a Black Woman today!)https://t.co/6yrP9BKBs2
— E. Jean Carroll (@ejeancarroll) August 6, 2020
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“Trump can’t stall a defamation lawsuit filed by a New York advice columnist who claims he raped her two decades ago, a judge ruled, allowing the two sides to start digging for evidence”https://t.co/pDSHdMEIus
— Jennifer Taub (@jentaub) August 7, 2020
Trump’s lawyers argued in @ejeancarroll’s defamation lawsuit that the Constitution bars presidents from being dragged into lawsuits in state courts.
“No, it does not,” Saunders wrote. https://t.co/lebqXNRikE
— Robbie Kaplan (@kaplanrobbie) August 7, 2020
Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, told the Post that "we are now eager to move forward with discovery so that we can prove that Donald Trump defamed E. Jean Carroll when he lied about her in connection with her brave decision to tell the truth about the fact that Donald Trump had sexually assaulted her."
Carroll and Zervos are among at least 25 women who have accused Trump of sexual harassment or assault, according to a Business Insider piece from May cataloguing the allegations and Trump's denials. A June 2019 White House statement claimed Carroll's accusation "was created simply to make the president look bad."
In February, Carroll suggested she was dismissed from her longtime job as an advice columnist for Elle magazine because of the president's attacks on her after she accused him of rape, which the magazine's publisher denied. Carroll detailed her accusation against Trump in an excerpt from her book, What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal, published last year on New York magazine's website.
Carroll wrote in part that while she and Trump were both at the New York City department store Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s, "the moment the dressing-room door is closed, he lunges at me, pushes me against the wall, hitting my head quite badly, and puts his mouth against my lips. I am so shocked I shove him back and start laughing again."
"He seizes both my arms and pushes me up against the wall a second time, and, as I become aware of how large he is, he holds me against the wall with his shoulder and jams his hand under my coat dress and pulls down my tights," she continued. "I am astonished by what I'm about to write: I keep laughing. The next moment, still wearing correct business attire, shirt, tie, suit jacket, overcoat, he opens the overcoat, unzips his pants, and, forcing his fingers around my private area, thrusts his penis halfway—or completely, I'm not certain—inside me."