A Washington, D.C., appeals court on Thursday declined to shield Donald Trump from the first of two civil defamation lawsuits by E. Jean Carroll, a writer who said the former U.S. president raped her nearly three decades ago.
The district’s highest local court, the Court of Appeals, said it did not have enough facts to decide whether Trump deserved immunity, after he accused the former Elle magazine columnist in June 2019 of lying about the alleged encounter.
A ruling that Trump was acting as president, and not in his personal capacity, would have immunized him and doomed Carroll’s first lawsuit because the government could substitute itself as the defendant, and the government cannot be sued for defamation.
The court sent the case back to the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan, which had last September asked the Washington court for guidance on local law.