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Spending taxpayer money in defense of authoritarianism is no virtue

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Merrick Garland is keeping one of the worst hits from Bill Barr’s playlist:

The Justice Department is keeping up the previous administration’s fight to defend former president Donald Trump against a private defamation lawsuit brought by a woman who accused him of rape — an effort that President Joe Biden had criticized on the campaign trail.

A federal judge in Manhattan ruled last fall that DOJ couldn’t take over Trump’s defense against a case filed by the writer E. Jean Carroll; Carroll accused Trump of defaming her when he publicly denied her allegation that he had raped her more than 20 years ago in a department store dressing room. The government appealed and filed an opening brief defending its position less than a week before Biden took office in January.

On Monday, lawyers for the Justice Department as well as Trump’s personal legal team were due to file the next round of briefs — marking the first major deadline for the department under the new administration to weigh in. In the government’s latest brief, the Justice Department lawyers continued to press arguments that the lower court judge got it wrong when he concluded that Trump wasn’t shielded from being sued and was acting within the scope of his official duties as president when he accused Carroll of lying.

There are legitimate prerogatives of the presidential office. This isn’t one of them.

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