Trump rape accuser arrives to court for oral arguments

Crime

FILE – In this March 4, 2020, photo, E. Jean Carroll talks to reporters outside a courthouse in New York. The U.S. Justice Department is seeking to take over President Donald Trump’s defense in a defamation lawsuit brought by Carroll, who accused the president of raping her in a New York luxury department store in the mid-1990s. Federal lawyers asked a court Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020, to allow a legal move that could put the American people on the hook for any money she might be awarded. She says the president’s comments, including that she was “totally lying” to sell a memoir, besmirched her character and harmed her career when he denied the rape allegations in 2019. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — A woman who says President Donald Trump raped her in the 1990s arrived at a courthouse Wednesday to hear lawyers argue whether Trump can substitute the United States for himself as the defendant in her defamation lawsuit. But the government asked for a postponement, saying its lawyer can’t enter the courthouse after traveling from Virginia, a state requiring a quarantine in New York.

If the hearing occurs, E. Jean Carroll’s lawyers will argue that Trump cannot claim he was acting in an official capacity when he made statements denying the encounter with Carroll in a luxury department store dressing room in midtown Manhattan.

Justice Department attorneys say Trump had to respond in June 2019 to accusations Carroll made against him in a book because the claims related to his fitness for office.

The arguments are taking place in Manhattan federal court before Judge Lewis A. Kaplan. Unlike most proceedings these days, the lawyers will be in a courtroom. Kaplan is expected to rule later in a written opinion.

The hearing was put in jeopardy when Justice Department lawyer Stephen R. Terrell sent a letter to the judge to say the attorney who was planning to make the government’s arguments had been blocked from entering the courthouse on the grounds that he traveled from Virginia. Terrell said the state had been added to jurisdictions from which the state of New York bans travel.

Carroll sued last year, saying defamatory attacks by Trump include assertions that Carroll had falsely accused other men of rape, that she lied about him to advance a secret political conspiracy and sell books and that he had never met her — even though they’d been photographed together. Her lawyers noted Trump also had said: “She’s not my type.”

Carroll was a 52-year-old media figure hosting an advice show when she says the encounter with Trump occurred sometime between the fall of 1995 and spring of 1996.

They recognized one another from each other’s media exposure and Carroll was struck “by his boyish good looks,” according to her lawsuit.

When Trump asked for her help to get a gift for “a girl,” Carroll “was surprised but thrilled that Trump would want her advice” and the search eventually led to the store’s lingerie section, the lawsuit said.

The lawsuit said they ended up together in a dressing room after teasing each other to try on a see-through lilac gray bodysuit. Once there, Trump closed the door, pushed her against a wall, bumped her head twice against a wall and pulled down her tights before raping her, the lawsuit said.

The Associated Press does not identify people who say they have been sexually assaulted unless they come forward publicly.

Carroll said in a lawsuit originally filed in Manhattan state court that she remained silent during the 2016 presidential campaign in part because her mother, a respected Republican official in Indiana, was dying at the time and she didn’t want to add to her pain.

She said the emergence of the #MeToo movement in late 2017 prompted her to go public with her own story as she advised other women in her advice column to be brave and to seek justice when they asked her how to respond to sexual assault and abuse.

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