“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. But this case does not concern whether Mr. Trump’s response was appropriate,” the filing reads. “Nor does it turn on the truthfulness of Ms. Carroll’s allegations. The case instead addresses whether the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) and the Westfall Act apply to the President and the scope of their application – questions that implicate the institutional interests of the federal government.”
“The district court’s resolution of those issues was erroneous, and the government respectfully urges the Court to reverse the decision of the district court,” the filing continued. “To that end, the Westfall Act creates a mechanism for substituting the United States as the sole defendant in instances where a claim within the scope of the FTCA is filed against federal employees.”
“We remain confident that Judge Kaplan’s decision will be affirmed by the Second Circuit,” she continued.
After Carroll’s 2019 accusation, Trump said that he never met Carroll and accused her of fabricating the allegations to sell her book or to “carry out a political agenda.”
“President Trump’s comment concerned media reports about an alleged sexual assault that took place more than 20 years before he took office. Neither the media reports nor the underlying allegations have any relationship to his official duties,” U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan of the Southern District of New York wrote in an opinion in October.
The DOJ had argued that by denying Carroll’s allegations, Trump was making it easier for himself to govern due to the seriousness of the accusation. Kaplan said that the DOJ had waived that argument by waiting too long to make it, but even so, it was not convincing.
“While the government’s position is not entirely without merit, it goes much too far. Accepting it would mean that a president is free to defame anyone who criticizes his conduct or impugns his character – without adverse consequences to that president and no matter what injury he inflicts on the person defamed.,” Judge Kaplan wrote.
Before even getting into the nature and context of the president’s statements, however, Kaplan ruled that the president does not qualify as an “employee” of a “federal agency” for the purposes of the statutes that would allow the government to take his place – the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Westfall Act.
Fox News’ inquiries to a Trump spokesperson and the Justice Department were not returned at the time of publication.
Fox News’ Ronn Blitzer, Marta Dhanis and David Spunt contributed to this report.
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