The US Department of Justice has taken legal action to defend President Donald Trump in a defamation case from a woman who accuses him of raping her.
Under a court filing, the department is moving to replace the president’s private lawyers and take over the case.
Columnist E Jean Carroll accuses Mr Trump of assaulting her in a Manhattan department store in the 1990s.
In a lawsuit, she argues the president defamed her when he denied her claim by saying she “wasn’t his type”.
Mr Trump’s critics say that during his presidency he has compromised the US justice department, which is meant to operate independently of the White House.
The president has until now been represented in the case, which was filed in New York state court in November 2019, by his personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz.
What did the justice department say?
Its lawyers argue in Tuesday’s court filing that Mr Trump can be defended by government attorneys because he was serving in his capacity as president when he denied Ms Carroll’s allegation.
“President Trump was acting within the scope of his office as President of the United States at the time of the incidents out of which the Plaintiff’s defamation claim arose,” says the filing.
It seeks to elevate the case to a federal court from a state court.