Donald Trump Sues ABC, George Stephanopoulos for Defamation Over Use of Term ‘Rape’

Donald Trump is suing ABC News and George Stephanopoulos, claiming the “This Week” host harmed his reputation by stating on air that the former president was found liable for raping writer E. Jean Carroll.

The suit, filed Monday in federal court in the Southern District of Florida, followed a sometimes heated discussion with Rep. Nancy Mace on Sunday in which Stephanopolous grilled the South Carolina Republican and outspoken rape survivor over her endorsement of Trump.

“You’ve endorsed Donald Trump for president,” Stephanopoulos said. “Donald Trump has been found liable for rape by a jury. Donald Trump has been found liable for defaming the victim of that rape by a jury. It’s been affirmed by a judge—”

Mace cut him off, insisting, “It was not a criminal court case, number one,” and then proceeding to charge that Stephanopoulos was trying to “shame me as a rape victim.”

The exchange related to the findings by a jury in a Manhattan civil case in May that Trump was liable for sexual battery and defamation – but not rape – in the case brought by Carroll. Judge Lewis Kaplan later clarified that because of New York’s narrow legal definition of “rape,” the jury’s finding did not mean that Ms. Carroll “failed to prove that Mr. Trump ‘raped’ her as many people commonly understand the word ‘rape.’”

Trump’s suit charges that Stephanopolous made the statements “with actual malice or with a reckless disregard for the truth,” citing the standard that news organizations are held to when reporting on a public official. “Indeed, the jury expressly found that [Trump] did not commit rape and … Stephanopolous was aware of the jury’s finding in this regard yet still falsely stated otherwise.”

In an August ruling on a similar defamation claim to the one against ABC that Trump made in a countersuit filed against Carroll, Kaplan threw out the suggestion that the former president wasn’t found liable for rape. He wrote, “Indeed, the jury’s verdict in Carroll II establishes, as against Mr. Trump, the fact that Mr. Trump ‘raped her,’ albeit digitally rather than with his penis. Thus, it establishes against him the substantial truth of Ms Carroll’s ‘rape’ accusations.”

Trump faces fines totaling $88.3 million from two suits Carroll won.

Trump’s suit against ABC is the latest in a series that the presumptive Republican nominee for president has filed against major media organizations, The Times noted. Federal judges have dismissed his suits against CNN, The Times and The Washington Post.

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