A legal expert says that former President Bill Clinton’s sexual misconduct allegations case from his presidency created a legal precedent that could be used to go after Trump.
Trump’s accuser would allegedly be able to move forward with legal proceedings against him, even while he is running for president or if he is elected. This could potentially have a direct impact on 2024.
“A woman found to have been sexually assaulted by Donald Trump will still be able to sue him if he is elected president, a legal expert has said,” Newsweek reported.
“New York University law professor Stephen Gillers told Newsweek that a precedent has already been set in the sexual harassment case taken by former Arkansas state employee Paula Jones against President Bill Clinton. The Supreme Court ruled that Clinton could not use his presidency to delay the Jones case. Subpoenas issued in the Jones case led to the discovery that Clinton was having a White House affair with intern Monica Lewinsky and a massive political scandal,” the news outlet wrote.
That potentially opens the door for former Elle columnist E. Jean Carroll to continue with her defamation lawsuit against Trump if he wins the presidency in 2024 according to the professor.
Gillers believes that a civil case could proceed:
A civil case would not be delayed, as we know from Jones v. Clinton. But demands of a civil case can more easily be managed and can’t lead to prison.
He remarked that the Supreme Court would likely “delay any state criminal prosecution of a sitting president until the end of his term, regardless of when the alleged crime occurred.”
The 1997 Supreme Court case of Clinton v. Jones set the precedent that a sitting president is not immune to lawsuits that involve prior acts committed before taking office that are unrelated to the presidency.
“Jones sued to recover damages from Clinton, alleging that, while he was governor of Arkansas, ‘he made ‘abhorrent’ sexual advances to her. She claimed her rejection of those advances led to punishment by her supervisors in the state job she held at the time,’ according to a Supreme Court summation of the facts in the case,” Newsweek wrote.
The Supreme Court noted in the case that Clinton “promptly advised the Federal District Court that he would file a motion to dismiss on Presidential immunity grounds, and requested that all other pleadings and motions be deferred until the immunity issue was resolved.”
Newsweek laid out the ruling by the court on the Clinton matter:
Justice John Paul Stevens delivered the majority Supreme Court ruling in favor of Jones. Chief Justice William Rehnquist joined the decision, as did Justices Sandra Day O’Connor; Antonin Scalia; Anthony Kennedy; David Souter; Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Justice Stephen Breyer filed a separate opinion concurring with the decision.
Jones’ case moved forward with her attorneys focusing on Monica Lewinsky, a young White House intern who had an affair with the president. They used that involvement to assert that Clinton sought sexual gratification from female employees.
The proceedings led to Clinton famously holding a press conference where he denied ever having “sexual relations” with Lewinsky. That turned out to not be true.
“In August 1998, Clinton admitted to a federal grand jury that he had had ‘inappropriate intimate physical contact’ with Lewinsky in the White House but said it did not fit the definition of sex used by the Jones’ lawyers,” Newsweek stated.
E. Jean Carroll accused Trump in 2019 of attacking her in a dressing room located in a Manhattan Bergdorf Goodman department store in the mid-1990s. She was awarded $5 million in damages in May of 2023 by a jury. They concluded that Trump had sexually assaulted and defamed her. The assault was reportedly never proven.
Her attorneys are now seeking another $10 million in compensation as well as “substantially more” in punitive damages because of remarks that the former president allegedly made concerning Carrol while he was president following the jury’s verdict.
“This new defamation lawsuit came after Trump allegedly told a White House reporter that the rape never happened and that Carroll was not his ‘type.’ The current lawsuit also cites Trump as calling Carroll’s version of events ‘fake’ and labeling her a ‘whack job’ during a CNN town hall broadcast,” Newsweek elaborated.