Trump sues ABC News and host George Stephanopoulos over rape claim

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Trump sues ABC News and host George Stephanopoulos over rape claim

Former US President Donald Trump has filed a defamation lawsuit against ABC News and its presenter George Stephanopoulos for on-air comments.

Mr Stephanopoulos asked congresswoman Nancy Mace in an interview why she backs Mr Trump despite him being found “liable for rape”.

Last year, a New York civil court found Mr Trump sexually abused E Jean Carroll in 1996.

But the jury did not find the former president had raped her.

The judge in the case later stated that the claim that Mr Trump had raped Ms Carroll was “substantially true… albeit [with his fingers] rather than with his penis”. Under New York law, rape can only be committed with genitals.

Ms Carroll was awarded $83.3m (£65m) for battery and defamation over disparaging comments made by Mr Trump when he denied her accusation.

ABC declined to comment on Tuesday about Mr Trump’s lawsuit against the network.

The legal action was filed by Mr Trump in Florida on Monday. It argues that statements in the interview were “false, intentional, malicious and designed to cause harm”.

The 10 March interview on ABC’s This Week programme began with an archive clip of Ms Mace – a South Carolina Republican who has advocated on behalf of rape victims – talking about dealing with her own previous experience of sexual assault. She has previously spoken about how she was raped by a classmate when she was 16 years old.

“You endorsed Donald Trump for president,” Mr Stephanopoulos, a former Clinton White House spokesman, said to Ms Mace. “Judges and two separate juries have found him liable for rape and for defaming the victim of that rape. How do you square your endorsement of Donald Trump with the testimony that we just saw?”

Ms Mace said she was offended by the line of questioning.

“You’re trying to shame me this morning, and I find it offensive, and it’s why women won’t come forward” to report rape, she said.

She also drew a distinction between sexual assault and rape and said the allegation against Mr Trump was not proven in a criminal court. And she alleged that Ms Carroll had joked about the settlement and made a “mockery” of rape.

Mr Trump, who is the presumptive Republican White House candidate, has a history of filing defamation suits against the news media, most of which have been unsuccessful.