Judge grills Trump lawyer over rape allegation: How is saying 'she's not my type' part of presidential duties?
President Donald Trump at Trump National Golf Club Bedminster (screengrab)

On Friday, a federal appeals court in New York heard arguments over whether the Justice Department should take over the defense of former President Donald Trump in the defamation suit by advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, who has accused him of raping her in a department store in the late 1990s.

One of the pivotal moments of the arguments, according to BuzzFeed News, came when one judge asked Trump's legal counsel how the former president's statements against Carroll were part of his official duties.

"In one interview responding to Carroll’s accusation, he was quoted as saying, 'I’ll say it with great respect: Number one, she’s not my type. Number two, it never happened,'" reported Zoe Tillman. "That comment jumped out to Second Circuit Judge Denny Chin, who pressed Trump’s personal attorney Alina Habba to explain why the court should find that making that kind of comment was within Trump’s 'scope of employment' as president. 'Who is he serving when he says something like, ‘she’s not my type?’ Is he serving the United States of America when he makes that statement?' Chin, who was confirmed under former president Barack Obama, asked."

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According to the report, "Habba replied that it was part of his job as president because he had to respond to Carroll’s allegation to the extent it affected his ability to serve."

The Justice Department announced in June that it is continuing to try to take over the case. In September, they asked the court to stay all proceedings, but this request was denied.