Journalist E. Jean Carroll has accused President Donald Trump of raping her in the 1990s.
The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has sought to defend Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed against him by E. Jean Carroll, a woman who has accused the president of sexual assault.
The alleged incident happened in the 1990s long before Trump became president, however, since his comments spurring the suit came while he was in office, the Justice Department argued that it must take over.
"Because President Trump was acting within the scope of his office or employment at the time of the incident out of which the plaintiffís claim arose, the United States will file a motion to substitute itself for President Trump in this action for any claim for which the [ Federal Tort Claims Act] provides the exclusive remedy," the DOJ filing said on Tuesday.
The move to defend Trump at taxpayer expense comes amid criticism that the DOJ has acted in the Republican presidentís personal interests.
Carroll, an advice columnist who for years wrote for Elle Magazine, is suing Trump personally alleging that he raped her in a dressing room at luxury Manhattan department store Bergdorf Goodman.
Following the Justice Departmentís decision, she issued a statement, saying, "Todayís actions demonstrate that Trump will do everything possible, including using the full powers of the federal government, to block discovery from going forward in my case before the upcoming election to try to prevent a jury from ever deciding which one of us is lying."
The DOJís move complicates, at least for the moment, her efforts to get a DNA sample from Trump as potential evidence and to have him answer questions under oath.
Meanwhile, Trump has denied the allegation, calling it "totally false" and asserting he "never met this person in my life."
Nearly 20 women have accused Trump of sexual misconduct, ranging from unwanted touching to groping to assault. Trump has denied any wrongdoing, and sometimes claimed that he does not know the women. The White House has called his accusers liars.
"Iíve been falsely accused by people that Iíve never even seen, Iíve never even seen many of these people. And some of these people, I met them - zero interest, okay? Like zero," Trump said.
Weeks before the presidential election last November, The Washington Post released a tape in which Trump boasted about how he sexually assaulted women because he was powerful.