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Donald Trump loses bid to toss E. Jean Carroll defamation claim based on Truth Social post

E. Jean Carroll : Donald Trump

Left: Former President Donald Trump announces he is running for president for the third time at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Nov. 15, 2022. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik, File). Right: E. Jean Carroll, center, waits to enter a courtroom in New York for her defamation lawsuit against President Donald Trump, March 4, 2020. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File).

Former President Donald Trump cannot toss one of E. Jean Carroll’s defamation claims based on his rant about her on Truth Social, ridiculing her as “Ms. Bergdorf Goodman,” a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

On Oct. 12, 2022, Trump doubled down on the statements that Carroll sued him for the first time, including the remark that she isn’t his “type.”

“She completely made up a story that I met her at the doors of this crowded New York City Department Store and, within minutes, ‘swooned’ her,” Trump wrote, in an off-the-cuff euphemism for Carroll’s accusations of rape. “It is a Hoax and a lie, just like all the other Hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years. And, while I am not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!”

At more than 400 words in total, the fusillade inspired one of the charges of Carroll’s second lawsuit, which is gearing up for trial next month. One of the counts confronts Carroll’s sexual battery allegations directly under the Adult Survivors Act. The other adds a defamation count for the Truth Social post.

Trying to toss the latter count, Trump’s attorneys argued that his statement fell under protections shielding a “report of any judicial proceeding.”

Senior U.S. District Judge Lewis Kaplan scoffed at the argument in his ruling.

“The statement as a whole ‘does not even purport to be a report of [a judicial proceeding],'” Kaplan wrote. “Instead, it is an amalgamation of Mr. Trump’s personal views and comments on a wide range of subjects, including the legal system of the United States and of New York, this Court, Ms. Carroll and her rape accusation against him, CNN and its journalist Anderson Cooper, and Ms. Carroll’s counsel.”

In Trump’s post, the former president attacked Judge Kaplan for having one of his rulings overturned. He called the legal system “broken disgraced,” ridiculed Cooper’s interview with Carroll, and swiped at Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan (no relation to the judge) as a “political operative and Cuomo crony.”

Roberta Kaplan didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

The D.C. Circuit is currently considering whether to toss out Carroll’s other defamation claim, based on Trump’s statement to reporters as president. Since that ruling will only determine whether Trump’s office immunized him, the court’s decision will not affect the latter defamation count, which post-dated his presidency.

Read the opinion here.

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."