In rambling and combative testimony at an October session at Mar-a-Lago, Trump reiterated past claims he didn’t know Carroll, except as an adversary in what he termed “hoax” litigation, and said she was fabricating the story altogether.
“I know nothing about her,” he said in response to questions from Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan, according to court documents unsealed Friday. “I think she’s sick. Mentally sick.”
The former president twisted Carroll’s comments from a June 2019 interview with CNN anchor Anderson Cooper, in which she said she shied away from calling her alleged encounter with Trump a “rape” because the word “has so many sexual connotations” and is a “fantasy” for many.
“I think most people think of rape as being sexy,” she told Cooper, according to a transcript of the interview, explaining that she instead thinks of her alleged attack as a “fight.”
Trump cited the interview in telling Kaplan that Carroll “loved” sexual assault.
“She actually indicated that she loved it. Okay?” Trump said in the deposition. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”
Kaplan then asked: “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?”
And Trump answered: “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”
Carroll, an author and advice columnist, publicly accused Trump in 2019 of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. She has a pair of pending lawsuits against him in federal court in Manhattan, the first for defamation over comments by Trump in 2019 trashing her and her account, and the latter over the alleged sexual assault itself.
Trump lawyer Alina Habba said she would appeal the judge’s decision not to toss out the defamation case. A spokesman for Trump’s 2024 presidential campaign declined further comment.
Trump has denied knowing Carroll at all, even though he was photographed with her and her then-husband at an event decades ago.
On Friday, U.S. District Court Judge Lewis A. Kaplan rejected a bid by Trump’s attorneys to dismiss Carroll’s sexual assault lawsuit, which was filed under a New York law that lets sexual assault victims sue years later.
The D.C. Court of Appeals is considering whether the Justice Department can represent Trump as a federal employee, a long-running legal dispute that has been heard by various courts and which could effectively put an end to the defamation claims.
Kaplan has scheduled an April trial date for the cases.
At least 17 women have come forward with allegations that Trump physically touched them inappropriately, many of them supported by people they told at the time. Trump has repeatedly denied the allegations.
During the 2016 campaign, The Washington Post obtained a 2005 recording of Trump bragging about unwanted kissing and groping on the set of the TV show “Access Hollywood.” Trump apologized for what he chalked up as “locker-room banter.”
Carroll’s lawsuits are part of a heap of legal troubles hanging over Trump as he attempts to mount his political comeback. Earlier Friday, Trump’s company was sentenced to pay a $1.6 million fine for tax crimes by two longtime executives, following a conviction at trial in December. There is still separate civil litigation brought by the New York attorney general, Letitia James, accusing the company of manipulating property values for tax benefits.
Trump is also under federal investigation for his efforts to overturn the 2020 election results and the mishandling of classified documents recovered from Mar-a-Lago, his Florida club and home. In addition, a special grand jury investigating election interference in Georgia has submitted its report, which a judge will decide whether to make public and authorities will use to decide whether to bring charges.
Since announcing his candidacy a week after the 2022 midterm election, Trump has avoided large public events, opting instead for hosting several galas at Mar-a-Lago and beaming into conferences by video. His campaign is planning a smaller-scale event in South Carolina later this month, rather than one of his signature rallies.
Trump has faced a growing chorus of criticism from Republicans blaming him for the party’s disappointing showing in the midterms, with former House speaker Paul D. Ryan chiming in with a Thursday CNN interview calling Trump a “proven loser.”
Trump’s early announcement has not succeeded in lining up overwhelming Republican endorsements or scaring off other candidates, as a handful of other potential rivals continue making more overt moves toward launching their own campaigns. Some early surveys have showed Trump trailing Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis.