In a landmark ruling, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has denied former President Donald Trump's bid to utilize presidential immunity as a defense in the ongoing defamation case brought against him by E. Jean Carroll. This pivotal decision paves the way for a trial on damages, scheduled to commence next month in New York.
The case, which has garnered significant media attention, centers around allegations made by Carroll, a former Elle magazine columnist. She accused Trump of defaming her by publicly denying her account of an alleged molestation that took place in the mid-1990s.
The court's ruling effectively dismissed Trump's claim of automatic presidential immunity, a defense he delayed in asserting until years after Carroll's initial lawsuit. In a statement encapsulating the gravity of the situation, the court pronounced, "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 waived the defense of presidential immunity by failing to raise it as an affirmative defense in his answer to E. Jean Carroll's complaint."
Damages Trial Looms
The legal battles between Trump and Carroll have been closely followed, with Carroll previously securing a $5 million defamation and battery judgment against Trump.
The upcoming trial, overseen by Judge Lewis Kaplan, will not focus on Trump's liability - already established by Kaplan - but rather on the amount of damages he owes. Carroll's legal team, led by attorney Robbie Kaplan, expressed satisfaction with the appellate court's decision, stating, "We are pleased that the Second Circuit affirmed Judge Kaplan's rulings and that we can now move forward with trial next month on January 16." In response to the ruling, Trump's legal representative, Alina Habba, announced plans to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.
"The Second Circuit’s ruling is fundamentally flawed and we will seek immediate review from the Supreme Court," Habba remarked. The court's decision underlines a key legal precedent: that presidential immunity, while significant, is not an unassailable shield and can be waived if not timely invoked.
This ruling not only impacts the current case but also sets a precedent for future legal encounters involving presidential immunity.