Former President Donald Trump faced a significant setback as a federal appeals court dismissed his attempt to claim presidential immunity in a civil defamation lawsuit brought by former magazine columnist E. Jean Carroll.
The judges asserted that Trump had waived the use of presidential immunity as a defense by not raising it earlier in the litigation. Carroll accused Trump of defamation when, as president, he denied her allegations of sexual assault.
CNN reported on Wednesday, December 13, the federal appeals court’s rejection of Trump’s presidential immunity claim in E. Jean Carroll’s lawsuit.
In a ruling that addressed a novel legal question, the appeals court affirmed the lower court’s decision to reject Trump’s motion for summary judgment.
This case presents a vexing question of first impression: whether presidential immunity is waivable. We answer in the affirmative and further hold that Donald J. Trump (‘Defendant’) waived the defense of presidential immunity by failing to raise it as an affirmative defense in his answer to E. Jean Carroll’s (‘Plaintiff’s’) complaint,” the court declared.
With the case slated to proceed to trial in January, Carroll’s attorney, Robbie Kaplan, expressed satisfaction with the Second Circuit’s decision.
“We are pleased that the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Kaplan’s rulings, and that we can now move forward with the trial next month on January 16,” Kaplan remarked.
Meanwhile, Alina Habba, an attorney for Trump, denounced the ruling, asserting, “The Second Circuit’s ruling is fundamentally flawed, and we will seek immediate review from the Supreme Court.”
This legal battle is not unfamiliar territory for Carroll and Trump. In 2022, Carroll separately sued Trump for sexual assault and defamation under the Adult Survivors Act, about statements made after he left office.
The trial resulted in a jury finding Trump liable and awarding Carroll $5 million in damages. The original lawsuit, initiated in 2019, revolves around similar statements Trump made while president that same year.
This case, focused on damages, is also scheduled to go to trial in January. As the legal proceedings unfold, the intricacies of presidential immunity, its waiver, and the broader implications for high-profile figures embroiled in such controversies continue to captivate legal observers and the public alike.
The impending trial in January holds the promise of shedding further light on this complex legal saga.