The White House’s connection to the Justice Department (DoJ), Heidi Stirrup, sought derogatory information later this year from a senior Justice Department official about a woman who claims she was raped by Donald Trump, according to the person Stirrup directly sought from the information.
The revelation raises the prospect that the U.S. presidential ally directly pressured the justice department to try to find potentially harmful information about a woman who had accused Trump of sexually assaulting her.
E Jean Carroll, a journalist and advisory colonist, sued Trump in November 201
Trump at the time responded to her accusations by claiming that Carroll was a “complete liar” and tried to ridicule her by saying “she’s not my type”. These and similar comments led Carroll to sue him.
Stirrup apparently believed that the justice department had information that could help the president’s legal defense in the case. The lawyer, whom Stirrup sought information about Carroll, said Stirrup approached them not long after a judge ruled the Justice Department could not take over Trump’s defense.
Stirrup asked if the department had revealed any derogatory information about Carroll that they had to share with her or the president’s private adviser. Stirrup also suggested that she could serve as a channel between the department and individuals close to the president or his private legal team.
Stirrup also asked the official if the Justice Department had any information that Carroll or anyone on her legal team was affiliated with the Democratic Party or partisan activists who might have set her up to falsely accuse the president.
Earlier, Trump himself suggested without mentioning any evidence that his political opponents were behind the accusations: “If anyone has information that the Democratic Party is working with Mrs. Carroll or New York Magazine [to whom Carroll first told her story]”Please notify us as soon as possible,” Trump said.
The official to whom Stirrup sought information admonished Stirrup and told her that her request was inappropriate.
The official reminded “to give her the strongest possible expression” that it was initially wrong to seek such information and instructed her not to do so in the future.
When it was revealed that Stirrup had later sought non-public information from other officials from the Justice Department about other ongoing investigations, including election fraud, and non-public information about cases of interest to the White House, Stirrup was told she was unwelcome at the Department of Justice and banned the building.
On December 3, the Associated Press reported, citing three sources, Stirrup’s ban “after trying to pressure employees to provide sensitive information about election fraud and other matters she could pass on to the White House.” However, it has not previously been reported that one of the issues that led to Stirrup’s ban was her seeking information about the Carroll case.
It is unclear whether Stirrup acted alone or in the direction of the White House when it comes to the Carroll case.
But many see it as unlikely that Stirrup made his request completely independently. Stirrup acted as liaison to the Justice Department during a period in which the White House removed its links to virtually all major federal agencies that they thought could be disloyal – while informing them of their compensation that they would no longer report to those agencies. , they were assigned but rather directly to the White House.
A spokesman for the Justice Department declined to comment, saying they had not been successful in uncovering more information.
The outcome of the Carroll defamation case could have huge political and legal consequences for Trump.
Steve Vladeck, a professor of law at the University of Texas, said that if the case goes to trial, Trump will have to “present evidence and testify about the underlying rape allegation,” and he could risk being injured.
Failure to testify truthfully in a civil case can have serious consequences for a president or other high-profile political figure. When former President Bill Clinton was sued for sexual harassment, and later admitted to giving misleading testimony in that case, he was indicted by the House of Representatives, acquitted by the U.S. Senate after a trial and voluntarily surrendered his license to practice law for five years. years several years.
Judge Lewis Kaplan of the Southern District of New York, who was considering the Department of Justice’s attempt to take over Trump’s attorney, noted in a Oct. 26 decision that any finding that Trump defamed Carroll would likely be considered an implicit finding by a jury. that Trump actually raped Carroll.
“The question of whether Trump actually raped Mrs. Carroll seems to be at the heart of her trial. This is because the truth or falsity of a defendant’s alleged defamatory statement may be inappropriate for any defamation case, ”Kaplan said.
In early September, the Justice Department, led by then-Attorney General William Barr, tried to replace Trump’s private legal counsel with the department’s attorneys to defend him against Carroll’s trial. Justice officials claimed that while Trump accused Carroll of lying and further attacking her, he acted in his official capacity as president of the United States.
Kaplan ruled that the Justice Department could not take over Trump’s defense, concluding that Trump’s alleged defamation of Carroll had nothing to do with his official duties as president or “government operation” or “within the framework of his appointment.”
The Justice Department promised to appeal Kaplan’s decision. But it is unlikely that Joe Biden’s justice department will come forward with such an appeal.
Justice officials and external legal observers say the department’s position that the president acted in official capacity while allegedly disgracing his alleged rape victim – from about 20 years earlier – is a position that is unlikely to prevail among most judges.
Last week, while announcing that he was nominating the Federal Court of Appeal, Judge Merrick Garland, to be his new Attorney General, the president-elect said he would end Trump’s practice of “treating attorney general as his personal lawyer and the department as his. personal company ”.