New York advice columnist E. Jean Carroll, said in a 2019 article that Trump sexually assaulted her in the 1990s in a Manhattan department store dressing room. The then-president subsequently told reporters that Carroll’s account wasn’t true and she wasn’t his “type.” Carroll responded by suing him for defamation for calling her a liar. Trump’s lawyers have advanced a series of arguments to stall or dismiss her suit, the most intriguing of which has been the claim that his statements about Carroll fell within his official duties as president and are therefore immune from civil suits. Trump got some surprise backing for this position when Biden’s Justice Department took up the previous administration’s attempt to end Carroll’s suit. Though Trump’s remarks were “crude and disrespectful,” the Justice Department said in a court filing last June, “speaking to the public and the press on matters of public concern are undoubtedly part of an elected official’s job.” The trial judge rejected that argument but it’s now under appeal.
Among the more notable times Elon Musk got into trouble on Twitter was his exchange with British cave diver Vernon Unsworth, who participated in the rescue of a youth soccer team that became trapped in cave by floodwaters. Unsworth sued Musk for defamation, seeking $190 million damages, after the billionaire called him a “pedo guy” in a tweet. The tweet had been in response to Unsworth’s criticism of Musk’s proposal to rescue the team using a miniature submarine. After the children were rescued without Musk’s help, Unsworth said on CNN that the Tesla chairman’s proposal was a “PR stunt” and suggested he “stick his submarine where it hurts.” Though Unsworth testified that he felt he had been “branded as a pedophile,” the jury sided with Musk in finding that the insult wasn’t intended to be taken seriously.