Attorney General William Barr on Wednesday said the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) move to defend President Trump in the defamation suit brought by author E. Jean Carroll, who accused the president of rape, was a “normal application of the law.”
At a press conference in Chicago, Barr cited the Federal Tort Claims Act, known as the Westfall Act, saying it permits the administration to request certification for the case to be moved to federal court and to substitute the U.S. government as the responsible party.
Barr claims that this action is perfectly “routine,” and “done frequently.”
“It is done frequently,” Barr said. “And the little tempest that’s going on is largely because of the bizarre political environment in which we live,” he added, dismissively.
For the case involving Carroll, the White House submitted a memorandum requesting the certification, Barr said.
“The case law is crystal clear that the Westfall Act applies to claims against the president, the vice president, as well other federal employees and members of Congress,” he said.
Barr also pointed to D.C. case law, which he said ruled “that elected officials in our … representative democracy when they’re answering questions in office even about personal affairs, any defamation claim is subject to Westfall.”
Attorney General William Barr defends the Justice Department's unprecedented decision to defend President Trump in a defamation lawsuit brought by E. Jean Carroll, a columnist who accused Trump of sexual assault https://t.co/N7Tr4GgT2K pic.twitter.com/Tb5q9raIPm
— CBS News (@CBSNews) September 9, 2020
Former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder on Tuesday responded to the news, calling Barr’s decision “absurd,” and saying it “reflects the absolute legal and moral bankruptcy of this Attorney General.”