In a new letter, the DOJ argues that E. Jean Carroll’s amended defamation complaint renders their position moot on the need to represent Trump.
In a letter to the judge, the DOJ wrote:
The Attorney General’s determination as to whether to certify that an employee of the government was acting within the scope of his office or employment is framed by the allegations of the operative complaint. Thus, knowing which complaint is operative may bear on the certification issue. See
Reedus v. McDonough, Case No. 1:21-cv-357, 2023 WL 1778410 at *1–*2 (N.D. Ind. Feb. 6, 2023) (“An amended complaint acts as a complete substitute for the original complaint and the case proceeds only on the allegations in the amended complaint. . . . Thus, when Plaintiff filed her amended complaint, that became the controlling document in the case. The Government’s prior request to substitute itself for Dr. McBride under the Westfall Act . . . were rendered moot.”)
Law professor Jen Taub explained:
Reference to the evidence that came forward at trial that sheds light on Donald Trump’s motivation is important here. It’s quite possible once DOJ sees the discovery material that they decide he was acting for personal reasons not in the scope of his employment as president
— Jen Taub (@jentaub) May 26, 2023
When E. Jean Carroll amended her complaint to include potentially defamatory statements made by Trump at his recent CNN town hall, it opened the door for the DOJ to walk away from representing Trump, because the issue in the case is no longer when Trump made the initial defamatory statements about Carroll while acting as president.
As an ex-president, Trump has no official capacity, and thus no immunity, so the question of whether or not his statements were protected speech as a government official is irrelevant, but the lawsuit now includes statements that Trump made after he left office.
Donald Trump gave Attorney General Garland the escape hatch that he has probably been seeking since William Barr saddled him with having to represent Trump.
Trump’s CNN town hall did not produce record ratings. In fact, it cost CNN viewers. The town hall got Trump sued again by Carroll, and Trump may lose his government lawyers.
The legal disasters keep coming for Donald Trump.
Jason is the managing editor. He is also a White House Press Pool and a Congressional correspondent for PoliticusUSA. Jason has a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. His graduate work focused on public policy, with a specialization in social reform movements.
Awards and Professional Memberships
Member of the Society of Professional Journalists and The American Political Science Association