- E. Jean Carroll, who claims Trump raped her, sued him for defamation more than three years ago.
- Carroll filed a second lawsuit in November, adding a defamation lawsuit and accusing him of battery.
- Insider breaks down the status of Carroll and Trump’s legal battle.
Former President Donald Trump sought to avoid liability in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation lawsuit Tuesday as his appeal of the case was heard in the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals.
Carroll, a longtime advice columnist for Elle magazine, first sued Trump in November 2019 after he loudly denied her rape allegation against him — making demeaning comments about her appearance and claiming she only went public with the allegation that to sell her memoirs.
But the case has been in court since the Justice Department stepped in in 2020, arguing that a federal law called the Westfall Act prevents Trump, who is running for president again, from being personally sued in the case.
The case ended Tuesday in the DC Court of Appeals because the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit disagreed on whether the Westfall Act applies to Trump and asked the DC court for a consideration.
Although it won’t be weeks before the DC Court of Appeals issues its answer, Carroll’s legal battle against Trump remains active, with a second lawsuit on the record and the potential for portions of Trump’s testimony to be unsealed by the end of the week.
Below, Insider breaks down everything that’s going on with Carroll’s lawsuits against Trump right now.
A traumatic meeting in a department store
Carroll first accused Trump of rape in her memoir, which was published in excerpts before publication in New York Magazine in June 2019.
In the excerpt, Carroll described his encounter with Trump at the Bergdorf Goodman department store sometime in the fall of 1995 or spring of 1996.
She described how she and Trump engaged in a lighthearted exchange in the lingerie department before Trump took Carroll into a dressing room, pinned her against a wall and proceeded to assault her, she wrote. While Carroll didn’t actually use the word “rape” in her essay, she later said that it described exactly what happened to her.
Carroll never reported the incident to police but said she later told two friends about the alleged attack. She also said she kept the dress she wore that day, which was analyzed for DNA. Carroll’s legal team has requested a sample of Trump’s DNA to compare to analysis of Carroll’s dress, but court documents don’t say if they have already received a sample.
Carroll’s first trial
After her essay was published, Trump disputed Carroll’s claim in a series of statements to the press in June 2019, saying Carroll was “not my type” and suggesting that she made up the story to add to her memoir to sell.
Five months later, Carroll sued Trump for defamation, claiming he had attacked her reputation by claiming she made up the story.
That lawsuit took a turn a year after it was filed when the Justice Department, led by then-Trump-appointed Attorney General Bill Barr, intervened in the case to remove Trump as the defendant and replace him with “USA.”
The Justice Department’s rationale was that Trump made his comments about Carroll while he was president to legally protect him from being sued as an individual for his work as a public official. As the Biden administration took over, the DOJ further intervened to try to remove Trump from the case.
Judge Lewis Kaplan denied the DOJ’s request to replace Trump as a defendant in October 2020, but Trump’s team appealed the following month. While the Second Circuit Court of Appeals initially ruled in Trump’s favor that federal law protects Trump from being personally sued, the court eventually referred the matter to the DC Court of Appeals.
Trump also tried and failed to counter Carroll, but Kaplan blocked that move in March, saying the timing of Trump’s effort appeared to be a “malicious” attempt to delay proceedings.
On Thanksgiving Day, Carroll’s attorneys filed a second lawsuit against Trump, alleging a second defamation over his Oct. 12 comments on Truth Social and calling Carroll’s allegation “a fraud and a lie.”
That lawsuit also includes a battery lawsuit against Trump over alleged rape. Previously, Carroll had not been able to sue Trump over the alleged rape because the statute of limitations had expired. But a new New York law, the Adult Survivors Act, temporarily allows sexual assault lawsuits to be filed in cases where the statute of limitations has expired.
Trump won’t be able to invoke the Westfall Act in Carroll’s second lawsuit, meaning at least one of her defamation lawsuits is likely to go ahead.
If the DC circuit allows Carroll’s first lawsuit, a court hearing could take place in the next few months. Carroll’s attorneys have requested that both lawsuits be heard concurrently, and a hearing date for the first lawsuit has been set for April 10.
On Monday, Judge Kaplan ordered the unsealing of portions of Trump’s testimony after his attorneys failed to object to the unsealing within a prior time limit. Trump’s attorneys wrote a letter to the court asking for a three-day extension, which Kaplan accepted. However, if he doesn’t believe her reasoning, part of that statement could be public by the end of the week.