United States District Judge Lewis Kaplan recently denied former President Donald Trump’s defamation counterclaim against writer E. Jean Carroll. The decision was made on Monday and comes after a federal jury had already ruled against Carroll in her defamation lawsuit against Trump back in May 2023.
Carroll, a prominent advice columnist, alleged that Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. In response, Trump denied the allegations and accused Carroll of fabricating the story to harm his reputation. He went on to claim that Carroll was lying and that he had never met her. In an effort to defend his reputation, Trump filed a defamation counterclaim against Carroll.
In his recent ruling, Judge Kaplan explained that Trump’s counterclaim had no legal grounds. He highlighted that the previous jury’s decision had already determined that Trump’s denial of the allegations was not defamatory. Therefore, any attempt to counter Carroll’s claims through a defamation lawsuit was unlikely to succeed.
Judge Kaplan’s ruling is a blow to Trump’s efforts to clear his name and seek retribution against Carroll. The decision is consistent with the previous court rulings that dismissed Trump’s attempts to avoid being sued for defamation as a sitting president. It reaffirms the principle that a sitting president may not use a defamation lawsuit to silence his critics or manipulate the legal system to his advantage.
Carroll’s attorney, Roberta Kaplan, praised the decision and viewed it as a victory for her client. She stated that the ruling demonstrated that Trump’s counterclaim lacked legal merit and was merely an attempt to intimidate and harass Carroll. She also noted that the decision upheld the principle of free speech and allowed her client to continue seeking justice for the alleged assault.
Trump’s legal team, on the other hand, expressed disappointment with the ruling. They argued that the defamation counterclaim was a legitimate defense of Trump’s reputation and that the previous jury’s ruling should not prevent him from seeking a legal recourse. They indicated that they would review the judge’s decision and explore further legal options on behalf of Trump.
The ruling by Judge Kaplan marks another chapter in the legal battle between Carroll and Trump. While Carroll’s defamation lawsuit against Trump had initially faced legal hurdles due to his presidential status, it has now garnered significant attention and may serve as a benchmark case for future defamation claims against public figures. The decision also raises questions about the responsibility of public figures in addressing and responding to allegations made against them.