Donald Trump’s Lawyer Hits Back at Latest Legal Move

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Donald Trump’s Lawyer Hits Back at Latest Legal Move

Donald Trump’s legal team has urged a judge to reject an attempt by ABC and host George Stephanopoulos to dismiss the defamation lawsuit filed against them by the former president.

Alejandro Brito has asked a Florida court to reject a motion to dismiss from the network in relation to an interview Stephanopoulos conducted with South Carolina Republican Representative Nancy Mace.

Trump is suing ABC and Stephanopoulos for falsely suggesting during the interview that a jury found him liable for raping former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll in the 1990s. In May 2023, a civil jury in New York found Trump liable for sexually abusing Carroll and then defaming her character while denying the assault took place. The court ordered him to pay $5 million in damages. The jurors found Trump sexually abused Carroll, not that he raped her.

In March, Stephanopoulos interviewed Mace, a rape survivor, on why she supports Trump for the presidency after “judges and two separate juries have found him liable for rape and for defaming the victim of that rape.”

Trump’s legal team has been contacted for comment via email.

Donald Trump in New York
Former President Donald Trump on January 17, 2024, in New York City. Trump’s legal team has urged a Florida court to reject an attempt by ABC and host George Stephanopoulos to dismiss the defamation lawsuit…

Alexi J. Rosenfeld/Getty Images

ABC News sought to have the case thrown out while noting that Judge Lewis Kaplan, who oversaw the civil trial in New York, has since ruled that Trump has committed rape under a broader definition defined in other states. At the time of the trial, New York law defined rape as committed using genitals. In January 2024, New York expanded its definition of rape to include nonconsensual anal, oral and vaginal sexual contact.

In his latest court filings, Brito said that the lawsuit filed by Trump is not about the legal definition of rape or sexual battery, but relates to the network’s and Stephanopoulos’ “unmistakably untruthful, knowingly false, and defamatory statements” as to what the jury in the Carroll civil case determined.

“As Defendants readily admit in their Motion, and as is alleged in the Complaint to have been known by Stephanopoulos at the time that he made the defamatory statements, [Trump] has never been found liable by a jury for raping Carroll, as that term is defined under New York’s Penal Code.

“Despite plainly possessing such knowledge, Stephanopoulos intentionally and maliciously repeatedly stated more than ten times during the segment that Trump had been found liable or guilty by multiple juries for the rape of Carroll, when in fact, the jury specifically held that Carroll did not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that Plaintiff raped Carroll. Stephanopoulos’ statements in this regard were false and defamatory.”

ABC’s legal team has been contacted for comment via email.

Brito requested the judge to reject the motion to dismiss appeal and to grant “any additional relief that this Court deems just and proper” should the former president win the case.

In their motion to dismiss appeal, lawyers for the network said that Stephanopoulos was “expressly referencing” a July 2023 Washington Post article headlined “Judge clarifies: Yes, Trump was found to have raped E. Jean Carroll” when he made his comments to Mace.

“The Judge affirmed that it was, in fact, rape. Donald Trump was found to have


committed rape,” Stephanopoulos told Mace while a graphic of the article was displayed on screen. “That’s just a fact.”

The article in question quotes a motion from Kaplan rejecting Trump’s attempt to throw out the $5 million penalty and order a new sexual battery and defamation civil trial.

“The definition of rape in the New York Penal Law is far narrower than the meaning of ‘rape’ in common modern parlance, its definition in some dictionaries, in some federal and state criminal statutes, and elsewhere,” Kaplan wrote in July 2023.

“The finding that Ms. Carroll failed to prove that she was ‘raped’ within the meaning of the New York Penal Law does not mean that she failed to prove that Mr Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’ Indeed, as the evidence at trial recounted makes clear, the jury found that Mr Trump in fact did exactly that.”

The judge also said that Trump raped Carroll while ruling that the former president could not try and argue otherwise in the second defamation suit by Carroll, which Trump lost and was ordered to pay a further $83 million in damages.

“Consequently, the fact that Mr Trump sexually abused—indeed, raped—Ms Carroll has been conclusively established and is binding in this case,” Kaplan said in January.

Uncommon Knowledge

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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