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Legal Expert Sees ‘Slam Dunk’ Trump Victory In Lawsuit Against ABC, Stephanopoulos

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OPINION: This article may contain commentary which reflects the author's opinion.


A noted legal expert and civil rights attorney has said he believes former President Donald Trump has a “slam dunk” case in a defamation lawsuit filed against ABC and its morning show co-host, former Bill Clinton operative George Stephanopoulos, who incorrectly claimed that the leading 2024 GOP contender was found guilty of “rape” in E. Jean Carroll case.

In a 20-page filing submitted to Miami federal court, Trump’s attorney, Alejandro Brito, argued that Stephanopoulos displayed “malice” and a “reckless” disregard for the truth during a recent interview with Congresswoman Nancy Mace (R-NC), particularly regarding the Carroll ruling. While Trump was found liable for sexual abuse under New York law, he was not found liable for rape.

Fox News added:

Stephanopoulos used the term “liable for rape” 10 times during the interview, but a federal jury in New York decided that Trump was not liable for rape but was liable for sexual abuse and defamation in the 2023 civil trial of advice columnist E. Jean Carroll vs. Trump. 

The co-host asked Mace, a rape survivor, to justify her endorsement of former President Trump with the decision by a New York jury to side against him in the Carroll decision.

“Judges and two separate juries have found him liable for rape and for defaming the victim of that rape. How do you square your endorsement of Donald Trump with the testimony we just saw, ” Stephanopoulos asked.

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Fox News contributor Leo Terrell told Fox News Digital on Thursday, “The statement that Trump was found liable for rape is a lie.”

“Not withstanding the fact that Donald Trump is a public figure and the standard for defamation is much higher. ABC News and George Stephanopoulos cannot find a civil or criminal verdict for Donald Trump for rape,” Terrell said.

“Let me be clear and simple,” he continued. “There is not a single legal document on Earth that finds Donald J. Trump liable for rape.”

Terrell, a practicing member of the California Bar since 1990, believes that Stephanopoulos will “have to write a very big check” to Trump.

“In my legal opinion, Donald Trump has a slam dunk case for defamation against ABC News and George Stephanopoulos,” Terrell said. “If you notice, the other left-wing networks are now very, very careful not to use the phrase ‘liable for rape.’ I’m sure their corporate attorneys advised them not to do so.”

Terrell pointed out that ABC News and Stephanopoulos “cannot claim ignorance” and had the financial resources and capabilities to thoroughly investigate the validity of a rape claim before the Mace interview.

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“The whole purpose of George Stephanopoulos’ statement was to intentionally harm and hurt President Trump’s chances for the presidency,” Terell said.

The lawsuit, filed Monday in Florida, claims Stephanopoulos’ statements are “false” and were made with “actual malice or with a reckless disregard for the truth given that Defendant Stephanopoulos knows these statements are patently and demonstrably false.” The court document then noted that a jury “expressly found that Plaintiff did not commit rape.”

The lawsuit points out that representatives of Trump contacted ABC to seek a retraction following an interview, but the Disney-owned news outlet failed to apologize or correct the record.

“Since making such false, malicious, and defamatory statements, many news and press outlets have continued to quote Stephanopoulos by wrongfully broadcasting that Plaintiff was found liable for rape,” Trump’s attorneys noted in the filing.

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Not all legal experts agree.

“It might be a good move for Trump politically, particularly in that it highlights the hypocrisy of Stephanopoulos, who was a part of President Clinton’s ‘bimbo eruptions’ project in the 1990s. But legally, Trump’s defamation suit would be a dud,” Fox News contributor Andrew McCarthy, a former assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said.

“The jury in the first E. Jean Carroll trial did not find that Trump did not commit rape. Rather, the jurors found that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that rape occurred, but found that Trump did commit sexual abuse,” McCarthy continued.

“Moreover, Judge Kaplan, in assessing the jury’s verdict, reasoned that the jurors must have believed Carroll’s testimony that Trump at least ‘digitally’ penetrated her. Although that does not fit the narrow N.Y. statutory definition of rape, Kaplan elaborated that it does fit the common understanding of rape,” he added.

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