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Attorney General Barr defends move to defend Trump in defamation case

September 9, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

US President Donald Trump (R) and US Attorney General William Barr step off Air Force One upon arrival at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland on September 1, 2020. - US President Donald Trump said September 1, 2020 on a visit to protest-hit Kenosha, Wisconsin that recent anti-police demonstrations in the city were acts of "domestic terror" committed by violent mobs. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN / AFP) (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday defended the Justice Department's decision to represent President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault in the 1990s.

(CNN)Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday defended the Justice Department's decision to represent President Donald Trump in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who has accused Trump of sexual assault in the 1990s.

Jean Carroll while serving as president, Barr said, the federal government is allowed to step in.

The attorney general also said politics is to blame for the reaction to the Justice Department paying for Trump's defense and possibly killing the lawsuit.

And the little tempest that's going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live," Barr said in a news conference in Chicago.

"Officials who are elected and answer press questions while they're in office, even if those questions relate to their personal activity, and could bear upon their personal fitness, is in fact in the course of federal employment, and can be therefore certified under the Westfall Act," Barr said.

Carroll, a veteran columnist for Elle Magazine, said Trump falsely called her a liar after she accused him of sexual assault.

"President Trump knows that I told the truth when I said that he had sexually assaulted me in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman.

He also knows that he was lying when he said that he had never met me before and that I 'wasn't his type,'" Carroll said in a statement Tuesday.

CNN legal analyst and University of Texas law professor Steve Vladeck said Barr's comments are misleading when it comes to the President.

"Yes, DOJ 'frequently' seeks to take over tort claims against federal employees," Vladeck said.

A person familiar with Trump's legal team said having the Justice Department step in into the case opens the door for additional legal defenses to the claims against Trump, including arguing that the federal government cannot be sued for defamation.

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