Trump lawyers try, fail to make E. Jean Carroll's lawsuit go away

Donald Trump's lawyers recently tried to make E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit go away. Those efforts are off to a bad start.
E. Jean Carroll
E. Jean Carroll, a New York-based advice columnist, claims Donald Trump sexually assaulted her in a dressing room at a Manhattan department store in the mid-1990s. Trump denies knowing Carroll.Craig Ruttle / AP
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By Steve Benen

Donald Trump's lawyers recently tried to make E. Jean Carroll's defamation lawsuit go away. As the New York Times reported, those efforts are off to a bad start.

A New York judge has rebuffed President Trump's bid to throw out a lawsuit filed against him by the writer E. Jean Carroll, who accuses him of hurting her career and reputation in denying her claim that he raped her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.

In a ruling made public on Thursday, Justice Doris Ling-Cohan of State Supreme Court in Manhattan rejected Mr. Trump's argument in a filing last week that New York's courts lack jurisdiction to hear the case because he was not in New York and did not live in the state when he made the comments that Ms. Carroll says defamed her.

The Times' article added that judge in the case noted that Trump failed to provide anything -- "not even a tweet, much less an affidavit" -- to support his position. The judge also cleared the way for the discovery process to continue.

For those who may need a refresher on the controversy, Carroll spent years as a prominent writer, media figure, and advice columnist, including having hosted a show on America’s Talking, which later became MSNBC. As regular readers may recall, in June, she also joined a long list of women who’ve accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

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Indeed, in a recently published book, Carroll described an alleged encounter in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, which the writer described as a violent sexual assault committed by the future president. Though definitively proving or disproving Caroll’s claim is difficult – there is no security footage to review and no physical evidence to scrutinize – the writer said she confided in two friends shortly after the alleged incident, telling them at the time what she said occurred. Those friends soon after came forward with on-the-record accounts.

The president has denied the claim, arguing, among other things, that his latest accuser is a “liar” who isn’t his “type.” Two months ago, Carroll sued Trump for defamation.

For her part, the plaintiff said in November that she was “filing this lawsuit for every woman who’s been pinched, prodded, cornered, felt-up, pushed against a wall, grabbed, groped, assaulted, and has spoken up only to be shamed, demeaned, disgraced, passed over for promotions, fired, and forgotten.”

Carroll added, “While I can no longer hold Donald Trump accountable for assaulting me more than twenty years ago, I can hold him accountable for lying about it and I fully intend to do so.”

When the allegations first surfaced over the summer, Trump issued a statement claiming that he’s never met E. Jean Carroll. There is, however, a photograph of the two interacting at an event in the mid-1980s.

The lawsuit coincides with a related case from Summer Zervos, a former contestant on Trump’s television reality show, which hasn’t gone away, despite the president’s lawyers efforts.

It’s worth noting for context that the public was confronted with a recording from 2005 in which Trump was heard bragging about committing sexual assaults. The Republican said, among other things, that he kisses women he considers attractive – “I don’t even wait,” Trump claimed at the time – which he said he could get away with because of his public profile.

“When you’re a star, they let you do it,” Trump said on the recording. “You can do anything. Grab ‘em by the p—y.”

Among the claims raised by Carroll was an allegation, denied by the president, that Trump “forced his fingers around my private area.”

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