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A federal appeals court asked a Washington D.C. appeals court Tuesday to help it decide whether the United States should be substituted for former President Donald Trump as the defendant in a defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who says he raped her over a quarter century ago.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Manhattan in a 2-to-1 decision reversed a lower court ruling that had concluded Trump must face the lawsuit brought in Manhattan federal court by columnist E. Jean Carroll.

But it stopped short of saying the U.S. can be substituted for Trump as the defendant in the lawsuit. Instead, it asked The D.C. Court of Appeals, the highest court in the District of Columbia, to decide whether Trump’s public statements denying Carroll’s rape claims occurred within the scope of his employment as president.

Carroll maintains Trump defamed her with public comments he made after she wrote in a 2019 book that Trump raped her during a chance encounter in the mid-1990s in a Manhattan department store. Trump denied the rape and questioned Carroll’s credibility and motivations.

The 2nd Circuit said Trump would be entitled to immunity by having the U.S. substituted as the defendant in the lawsuit if it was decided that his statements came within the scope of his employment.


Donald Trump’s legal team has told a newly appointed independent arbiter that it does not want to answer his questions about the declassification status of the documents seized last month from the former president’s Florida home, saying that issue could be part of Trump’s defense if he’s indicted.

Lawyers for Trump and for the Justice Department are to appear in federal court in Brooklyn on Tuesday before a veteran judge named last week as special master to review the roughly 11,000 documents — including about 100 marked as classified — taken during the FBI’s Aug. 8 search of Mar-a-Lago.

Ahead of the status conference, Raymond Dearie, the special master, requested the two sides to submit a proposed agenda and also provided a draft plan for how he envisions the process moving forward over the next two months.

Trump’s lawyers signaled in a Monday evening letter their objection to several aspects of that draft plan, including a request from Dearie that they disclose to him and to the Justice Department information about the classification status of the seized documents.

The resistance to the judge’s request was notable because it was Trump’s lawyers, not the Justice Department, that had requested the appointment of a special master to conduct an independent review of the documents so that any material covered by claims of legal privilege could be segregated from the investigation — and because the former president’s team’s recalcitrance included an acknowledgment that the probe could be building toward an indictment.

Trump has maintained without evidence that all of the records were declassified; his lawyers have not echoed that claim, though they have asserted that a president has absolute authority to declassify information.

In the letter, Trump’s lawyers say the time for addressing that question would be if they file a motion seeking the return by the Justice Department of some of the property taken from Mar-a-Lago.


President Joe Biden has the same authority to impose a COVID-19 vaccine requirement on federal workers that private employers have for their employees, an administration lawyer told a federal appeals court Tuesday.

A lawyer for opponents of the vaccine requirement, which has been blocked nationwide by a federal judge in Texas, said the requirement imposes an “unconstitutionally intolerable choice” for executive branch workers — taking a vaccine they don’t want or losing their jobs.

Judges on the appeals court meanwhile questioned how far the chief executive’s authority goes, asking, theoretically, whether the president could require employees to meet certain healthy body weights or forbid them from smoking at home.

It was the second time arguments on the issue were heard before the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. A three-judge panel of the same court had upheld the Biden requirement for executive branch workers, overturning the Texas judge.

But the full appeals court, currently with 16 active members, vacated the panel ruling and agreed to rehear the case. There was no indication when the court would rule.

Administration lawyers argue that the employees opposing the mandate should have taken their objections not to federal court but to a federal review board, in accordance with the Civil Service Reform Act. The administration also argues that the president has the same authority, under the Constitution, as the CEO of a private corporation to require that employees be vaccinated.



South Carolina’s looming Senate debate on an abortion ban that would no longer include exceptions for pregnancies caused by rape or incest is likely to feature Republicans facing off against each other Wednesday.

On one side is a core group that views any abortion as ending a life. On the other are conservatives who have digested developments elsewhere since Roe v. Wade was overturned and say they don’t want 14-year-old rape victims to have to give birth, or force a mother to carry to term a fetus unable to live outside the womb.

Debate on the Senate floor started Wednesday morning. Senators have been told the proceedings could last days, although they have recently tried to conclude such debates in marathon one-day sessions. If the legislation is approved and signed into law, South Carolina would join Indiana as states that have passed near-total abortion bans since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June.

In the first hour of debate, all three Republican women in the Senate rose to speak against the bill unless the rape and incest exceptions are restored.


A Pennsylvania man was sentenced Friday to 46 months in federal prison for attacking a police officer with a Donald Trump flag during the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported.

The newspaper reported that Howard Richardson, 72, of King of Prussia, told the court in Washington “there’s no excuse” for his behavior and pleaded for mercy.

But U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly responded, “Your presence and actions in joining other insurrectionists was an inexcusable attack on our democracy.”

Richardson’s sentence is one of the longest yet among those who have been prosecuted for storming the Capitol on Jan. 6 to disrupt the certification of President Joe Biden’s 2020 election victory. In addition to the nearly four-year prison sentence, Richardson was ordered to serve three years under court supervision after his release and to pay $2,000 in restitution.

Richardson never entered the Capitol, the Inquirer reported, but prosecutors said his attack on a Washington, D.C., police officer merited a lengthy prison term.

According to the paper, police body camera footage showed Richardson bludgeoning an officer outside the Capitol with a metal flagpole. NBC News reported that Richardson also joined a mob using a giant Trump billboard as a battering ram.

Approximately 850 people have been charged with federal crimes for their conduct on Jan. 6. Over 350 of them have pleaded guilty, mostly to misdemeanors, and over 230 have been sentenced. Dozens of Capitol riot defendants who pleaded guilty to misdemeanor offenses have been sentenced to terms of imprisonment ranging from seven days to five months.


A federal appeals court on Thursday said Arkansas can’t enforce its ban on transgender children receiving gender affirming medical care.

A three-judge panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a judge’s ruling temporarily blocking the state from enforcing the 2021 law. A trial is scheduled for October before the same judge on whether to permanently block the law.

Arkansas was the first state to enact such a ban, which also prohibits doctors from referring patients elsewhere for gender affirming care. There are no doctors who perform gender affirming surgery on minors in the state.

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson vetoed the ban last year, but GOP lawmakers overrode him and enacted the measure.

Multiple medical groups, including the American Medical Association, oppose the ban and have said the care is safe if properly administered. The Justice Department has also opposed the ban as unconstitutional.


A Georgia judge has dismissed a murder charge against a teen after concluding that he was legally justified in shooting a man seven times in 2021 because the man was trying to kidnap him.

The Ledger-Enquirer of Columbus reports that Muscogee County Superior Court Judge John Martin dismissed charges Wednesday against the unnamed teen at the behest of prosecutors who concluded from witnesses and video footage that the boy had a right to defend himself to stop a forcible felony under Georgia’s “stand your ground” law.

The boy, then 16, shot and killed Iverson Gilyard in August 2021 at a Columbus park. The newspaper withheld the boy’s name because he was a juvenile and has now been cleared of charges.

The boy was indicted as an adult in February for murder, aggravated assault, and possessing a gun while committing a felony. But prosecutors later concluded that Gilyard was the primary aggressor, entering the park and hitting the boy over the head with a handgun three times as the boy tried to get away.

Assistant District Attorney Robin Anthony said Gilyard, 22, also threatened to shoot the teen, saying “I’m going to bust you in the kidney.” When parents at the park complained, Anthony said Gilyard told the teen to follow him, stuck the gun in his waistband, and said, “You’d better not run, either.” Anthony said when Gilyard turned to walk away, the teen took a gun from his backpack and shot Gilyard. The 22-year-old was shot seven times, four times in the back, his family has said.

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