In one of the strangest legal carryovers from the Trump era to the Biden administration, attorneys from the U.S. Department of Justice appeared before a panel of judges in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit on Friday to argue that the former president should not be held liable in a defamation lawsuit filed by a woman who has accused him of sexually assaulting her.

Mark Freeman of the DOJ’s Civil Division started his argument by noting that he was not attempting to “defend or justify” Trump’s “crude and offensive comments.” He argued that Trump, who denied he raped the author E. Jean Carroll in response to press inquiries during his term in office, was acting as a federal employee covered by the Westfall Act.

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