Trump rape trial: E. Jean Carroll testifies
Writer E. Jean Carroll leaves the Manhattan Federal Court in New York on April 25, 2023, as jury selection is set to begin in the defamation case against former US President Donald Trump brought by Carroll, who accused him of raping her in the 1990s.
Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images
E. Jean Carroll, the writer who accuses former President Donald Trump of raping her in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, began testifying at a civil trial for her lawsuit on Wednesday.
“I’m here because Trump raped me,” Carroll testified. “He lied and shattered my reputation and I’m trying to get my life back.”
Carroll took the witness stand in Manhattan federal court after the judge in the case warned Trump’s lawyer about the former president’s new social media posts, which attacked Carroll’s credibility.
Trump’s posts mentioned two issues that Judge Lewis Kaplan had warned parties in the trial not to mention to jurors.
One of those issues was whether a dress Carroll said she saved from the day she claims Trump assaulted her contains DNA material that could be linked to him, or rule him out as the source of that genetic material. Carroll alleges Trump assaulted her in a dressing room at the Bergdorf Goodman department store in Manhattan in or around 1996.
The other has to do with her lawsuit against Trump being funded in part by Reid Hoffman, the LinkedIn co-founder and a major Democratic donor, and whether Trump’s lawyers will be allowed to argue to jurors that Carroll and her attorneys hid that fact for months.
Carroll’s lawyer Roberta Kaplan told Judge Kaplan, who is not related to her, about the posts before the first witness took the stand in the case.
Judge Kaplan suggested to Trump lawyer Joseph Tacopina that the former president could risk being sued or having sanctions imposed for the Truth Social posts he issued Wednesday morning.
“We are getting into in area in which your client could face a new liability and I think you know what I mean,” Kaplan said.
Trump, who is seeking the 2024 Republican presidential nomination, has not appeared in the courtroom since jury selection began Tuesday. It is not clear that he will attend the trial on any day.
The former president denies raping Carroll. He also argues he did not defame her in comments he made last fall, when he said her claim was a hoax, and that she had changed her account of the alleged attack during an interview with CNN.
In his first Truth Social post on Wednesday, Trump wrote, “The E. Jean Carroll case, Ms. Bergdorf Goodman, is a made up SCAM. Her lawyer is a political operative, financed by a big political donor that they said didn’t exist, only to get caught lying about that.”
“Just look at her CNN interview before & after the commercial break – Like a different person,” Trump wrote, referring to an interview Carroll gave CNN about the lawsuit.
He continued: “She said there was a dress, using the ol’ Monica Lewinsky “stuff”, then she didn’t want to produce it. The dress should be allowed to be part of the case. This is a fraudulent & false story–Witch Hunt!”
Trump wrote a second post echoing those themes, and wrote “Does anybody believe that I would take a then almost 60 year old woman that I didn’t know, from the front door of a very crowded department store, (with me being very well known, to put it mildly!), into a tiny dressing room, and …. her. She didn’t scream? There are no witnesses? Nobody saw this?”
Sketch of District Judge Lewis Kaplan in the Manhattan federal court in New York City, U.S. March 30, 2023, in this courtroom sketch.
Jane Rosenberg | Reuters
When Judge Kaplan told Tacopina that Trump was speaking to the public about issues he was not supposed to talk about, the attorney accused Carroll’s lawyers of leaking to the media that two mock juries they held for the case had ruled that Trump was civilly liable for raping and defaming her, according to tweets from reporters in court.
Kaplan noted that someone who had participated in the mock juries could have leaked that information.
Kaplan also said that Trump “refused to get DNA sample and now he wants it in the case?”
Tacopina then said he would speak to Trump later Wednesday about the posts, and would ask the former president not to comment on the case, according to the journalists’ tweets.
Also Wednesday, the Manhattan District Attorney’s office asked the state court judge in a criminal case against Trump to bar him from publicly using some of the evidence in that case.
Trump is accused of falsifying business records related to a 2016 hush money payment his then-lawyer Michael Cohen made to the porn star Stormy Daniels to keep her quiet about an alleged tryst with Trump.
Trump has pleaded not guilty in that case, and denies having sex with Daniels.
“Donald J. Trump has a longstanding and perhaps singular history of attacking witnesses, investigators, prosecutors, trial jurors, grand jurors, judges, and others involved in legal proceedings against him, putting those individuals and their families at considerable safety risk,” wrote assistant district attorney Catherine McCaw in her motion.