'Campaign to Destroy Trump'? Why Is POTUS 45 Under Fire Amid Defamation Suit and How Political Is It
20:17 GMT 16.09.2021 (Updated: 20:18 GMT 16.09.2021)
Earlier on Wednesday, New York District Judge Lewis Kaplan denied a request by former US President Donald Trump to delay the proceedings of a defamation suit filed against him by ex-Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll.
Ex-US President Donald Trump has become a central figure of several scandalous claims recently, beginning with new revelations from a fresh tome by Bob Woodward, titled "Peril", where the Washington Post journalist says that Trump's General, Mark Milley, contacted his Chinese counterparts to assure them that Trump was "stable" and would not wage an attack against China; and finishing with the Wednesday rejection from a District judge to delay a defamation suit filed against him.
Many observers have noted that the new attacks against the former president appear to be coincidentally timed to undermine his and his party's reputation in the forthcoming midterm elections slated for 2022 - something that is considered by many political experts to be a so-called referendum
on the incumbent president, Democrat Joe Biden, and his record.
As Trump faces a defamation suit filed by ex-Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll, who claims that he sexually assaulted her in the mid-1990s when they were in a department store, some people believe that both the legal action and the New York judge's refusal to halt the proceedings are aimed at damaging the reputation of Trump and the Republican party.
In particular, many people have questioned the credibility of Carroll's claims. Charles Ortel, a Wall Street analyst and investigative journalist, shares this sentiment, referring to the fact that they were made over several decades after the alleged assault took place and wondering how could it have gone unnoticed at the time.
"At surface level, Caroll's allegations seem outlandish and were made decades following a purported incident in a high-end department store that is normally quiet but generally replete with staff and customers", Ortel says. "The raucous encounter described by Carroll with someone well known in New York City, if it happened, certainly would have been noticed at the time. So, I strongly suspect it did not happen and is part of a continuing campaign to destroy Donald Trump and his political viability in 2024."
However, others suggest that the reasons behind the lawsuit may be a lot more prosaic, and the goal of the entire endeavour could be to receive money.
According to Stephen B Presser, leading American legal historian and professor of law at Northwestern University, one should not look for political implications in "this particular lawsuit". Citing some legal peculiarities in the United States, Presser notes that Carroll could be aiming for the "nuisance value" of the lawsuit - receiving money for settling the case and dropping it without prevailing on the merits.
"I don't know if that's the aim here, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was", he says. "It is hard to know if this is a political lawsuit, and I suspect it is Trump's wealth that leads to litigation of this nature as much as his politics."
Presser also points to the fact that Trump, in his view, "remains a threat to Democrat hopes of success in the 2022 and 2024 elections", and therefore political attacks against him should be expected, and litigation is among the tools that can be used in these attacks.
"I would not expect him to be seriously damaged by any ongoing investigations or lawsuits, but I would expect the relentless attack to continue both for political and financial purposes", he explains.
On Wednesday, US District Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York denied without prejudice a request from Trump's legal team to halt the legal proceedings in the defamation suit. Back in December 2020, Kaplan issued a ruling arguing that Trump must remain as a defendant in the lawsuit, rejecting his attempts to make it the US Justice Department instead.
According to Kaplan, Trump was not acting in his official capacity when he rebutted Carroll's allegations, with her decision coming despite the Justice Department, both Trump's and Biden's, saying that POTUS 45 acted within the scope of his employment when he was battling Carroll's claims in 2019.
While Carroll claims that Trump "smeared her integrity, honesty, and dignity" when he allegedly sexually assaulted her in a department store's dressing room in 1990s, the former president categorically denies any wrongdoing.