DOJ begs for delay of hearing in Trump rape case — claims it didn’t know about COVID rules in NYC
Composite image of AG Bill Barr and E. Jean Carroll (screengrabs).

The United States Department of Justice was expected to attempt to intervene in a civil case involving President Donald Trump on Tuesday, but the government's attorney was apparently unable to enter the courthouse.

The case involves an allegation by longtime columnist E. Jean Carroll that Trump sexually assaulted her in a Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York City. Trump denied the accusation and lashed out at Carroll, resulting in her suing him for defamation. On Wednesday, the DOJ was expected to argue a novel legal strategy that Trump's statements against Carroll were an official presidential action. This would allow taxpayer-funded attorneys to defend Trump in his civil case.

But shortly before the hearing, the DOJ moved for a delay after the DOJ attorney was denied access to the courthouse.

"As grounds for this motion, the United States respectfully submits that this morning, when the attorney for the United States who was designated to present argument in support of the motion for substitution, he was denied access to the courthouse on the grounds that he had traveled from his place of residence in the Commonwealth of Virginia, which yesterday, apparently, was added to the jurisdiction from which the State of New York bans travel," the motion read.

However, as BuzzFeed News court reporter Zoe Tillman noted on Twitter, the Virginia travel ban occurred a week earlier than the government argued before the judge.