Most observers believed that when the Supreme Court told Donald Trump that he can’t claim absolute immunity from lawsuits while in office, it didn’t immediately open the door for the release of his financial records. After all, the Supremes sent the matter back to lower courts courts rather than simply uphold a subpoena from the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Barring anything unforeseen, that makes it highly unlikely we’ll see those records before the election.
But the ruling may have opened the door for a much more immediate problem for Trump–one that may pose as great a threat to Trump as what lies in his tax records. One of the many women who claims Trump sexually assaulted her now argues that as a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Trump will have to answer for smearing her.
Last year, advice columnist E. Jean Carroll came forward to claim that Trump raped her sometime in 1995 or 1996. That made her the 22nd woman–at least–to claim that Trump sexually assaulted her. The response from the Trump camp was predictable. For instance, pro-Trump pastor Jesse Lee Peterson called her a daughter of the devil, while pro-Trump podcaster Bill Mitchell harrumphed that Carroll and Trump’s other accusers weren’t attractive enough to be raped.
But Carroll isn’t backing down. She sued Trump for defamation in November after Trump denied ever knowing her. As part of that suit, Carroll’s lawyers sought a DNA sample from Trump in hopes of comparing it to male DNA found on a dress Carroll wore on the night she claims Trump raped her in a Manhattan dressing room.
According to Carroll, the dress has hung on the back of her closet door “unworn and unlaundered” for over a quarter century. However, Trump not only refused, but asserted immunity from Carroll’s “numerous and burdensome discovery requests.”
Within hours of the decision coming down, Carroll dropped what proved to be a very loud hint to Trump.
The following morning, Carroll’s lawyers at Kaplan, Heckler and Fink wrote the judge hearing her defamation suit to argue that a result of the Supreme Court’s ruling, Trump’s claim of immunity now “lacks any merit whatsoever.” Trump has sought a stay on Carroll’s lawsuit until the New York State Court of Appeals can rule on whether another Trump accuser, former “Apprentice” Summer Zervos, can move forward with a suit of her own.
According to Carroll’s lawyers, Trump sought a stay because the federal Constitution’s Supremacy Clause grants the president immunity from lawsuits at the state level. From where Carroll is sitting, however, the Supreme Court’s ruling means that all attempts to delay her suit–including the immunity claim–are now “completely baseless.”
Roberta Kaplan, a partner at Carroll’s law firm, added in a statement that with the Supremes’ ruling, it is now clear that Trump has “no special right to defame women” just because he happens to be president. She argues that the ruling now clears the way for Kaplan to resume discovery “so that a jury can decide who is telling the truth–E. Jean or Donald Trump.”
Since Carroll came forward, three other women have come forward to claim that Trump sexually assaulted them. For those of you keeping score, that means at least 25 women have claimed Trump raped them–in some cases, as far back as the 1970s. It is mathematically impossible for them all to be lying. But we may be one step closer to getting proof in at least one case. Pass the popcorn.
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