Advertisement

Trump Sues Stephanopoulos, ABC News for Defamation Over Contentious Nancy Mace Interview

Getty Images
Getty Images

Donald Trump sued ABC News and George Stephanopoulos for defamation on Monday over the anchor’s interview with Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) earlier this month, where he questioned how Mace could support a presidential candidate found liable for sexual abuse.

In the 20-page complaint filed in Florida, Trump argued that Stephanopoulos defamed him by saying on-air that a jury found him liable for raping writer E. Jean Carrol when the jury had specifically found him liable for “sexual abuse.” That distinction, the former president claimed, made Stephanopoulos’ repeated on-air use of the word “rape” a form of defamation. “ABC News has no comment,” a network spokeperson told The Daily Beast.

A Manhattan jury found Trump liable for sexual abuse last year and awarded Carroll a $5 million verdict as a result. When asked if it believed Trump raped Carroll, the jury checked a “no” box on a verdict sheet—solely due to the definition of rape in New York state law being nonconsensual penile penetration. The jury could not consider that Trump raped her over her allegation that he penetrated her with his fingers.

Nancy Mace Blows Up at George Stephanopoulos Over Trump Rape Case

Judge Lewis Kaplan later clarified that finding in a July order, writing in a motion to dismiss a Trump claim that the jury’s verdict meets the common definition of the word rape. “Based on all of the evidence at trial and the jury’s verdict as a whole, the jury’s finding that Mr. Trump ‘sexually abused’ Ms. Carroll implicity determined that he forcibly penetrated her digitally—in other words, that Mr. Trump in fact did ‘rape’ Ms. Carroll as that term commonly is used and understood in contexts outside of the New York Penal Law,” Kaplan wrote.

Trump was then ordered in January to pay Carroll $83.3 million after he was found to have defamed her when he called her a liar for accusing him of sexual assault. Kaplan had made the defamation ruling, but it was a New York jury that decided on the financial award.

Stephanopoulos highlighted those cases during his contentious interview with Mace, asking her how she squared her endorsement of Trump with the jury’s findings on sexual assault. Notably, the ABC host used the word “rape” in describing the verdict, a fact Mace, a sexual-assault survivor, has seized upon—repeatedly attacking Stephanopoulos and ABC both during the interview and in the weeks since.

Nancy Mace Brings Her Stephanopoulos Beef to a Congressional Deepfakes Hearing

“I’m not going to sit here on your show and be asked a question meant to shame me about another potential rape victim,” Mace told Stephanopoulos, refusing to answer the question. “I’m not going to do that.”

Mace made the distinction between sexual abuse and rape once, but she did not proclaim Trump’s innocence, instead arguing the verdicts were found in a civil court instead of a criminal court. She also attacked Carroll for her comments regarding the case.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

Get the Daily Beast's biggest scoops and scandals delivered right to your inbox. Sign up now.

Stay informed and gain unlimited access to the Daily Beast's unmatched reporting. Subscribe now.