Trump lawyers grill E Jean Carroll over Apprentice texts and rape claim’s similarity to Law & Order episode

Former Elle advice columnist was quizzed over whether she had lifted rape allegations from a 2012 Law & Order episode on day two of cross-examination.

Bevan Hurley
Daniel Patrick Moynihan Courthouse in New York
,Gustaf Kilander
Monday 01 May 2023 23:57 BST
Trump Lawyer Questions E. Jean Carroll at Rape Lawsuit Trial

Donald Trump’s defence attorney grilled E Jean Carroll over old texts and social media posts and her love of The Apprentice on day two of her cross examination in a civil battery and defamation trial on Monday.

Ms Carroll, who has accused the former president of raping her in a dressing room at Bergdorf Goodman in 1996 and defaming her by calling it a “hoax”, testified that she was a “big fan” of the reality TV show hosted by Mr Trump.

“I had never seen such a witty competition on television,” Ms Carroll said, adding that she had written a glowing Facebook post about The Apprentice because she wanted to “boost” two friends who were appearing on it.

Ms Carroll, 79, testified that she hadn’t watched the end of the show where Mr Trump fired contestants.

Joe Tacopina, lead counsel for the former president, also sparred with Ms Carroll over whether her rape claim had been taken from the plotline of an episode of Law & Order.

“You know there’s a Law & Order episode from 2012 that featured a woman getting raped in the Bergdorf Goodman dressing room?” he asked on Monday.

Ms Carroll acknowledged she was aware of the episode, and was a fan of the show, adding that the long-running crime drama’s writers were “very good at keying in to the psyche of their viewers”.

But she denied it had led her to come forward with the rape allegations in 2019.

“That was amazing to me,” she said when she learned about the episode. When Mr Tacopina asked if she meant it was an “amazing coincidence”, she replied: “Astonishing.”

On re-direct, Ms Carroll’s attorney Mike Ferrara asked her: “Are you making up your accusation based on what happened in a popular TV show?”

“No,” she replied.

Former Elle advice columnist E Jean Carroll, left, departs Manhattan federal court, with her attorney Roberta Kaplan, on Monday, May 1.

Mr Tacopina also asked Ms Carroll about a 2012 Facebook post where she had asked whether anyone would have sex with Mr Trump for $17,000, even if they could keep their eyes closed and prevent him from speaking.

Ms Carroll acknowledged writing the post, and said she had made several jokes about the former president on social media.

Mr Tacopina went on to ask Ms Carroll about texts she had sent to her friend and confidante Carol Martin, who is due to testify at trial, arranging dinner dates with a group including Mr Trump’s niece Mary Trump, and MSNBC host Katie Phang.

In one text to her friend Carol Martin, Ms Carroll wrote of the get-together: “It’s gonna be a whoop”, implying she was enjoying the attention of the lawsuit. Ms Carroll said while she had received a lot of support from friends, she was not interested in publicity from the rape allegations.

Mr Tacopina took Ms Carroll through numerous media interviews she had given after the rape claims were made public in a New York magazine excerpt of her book What Do We Need Men For? A Modest Proposal.

Ms Carroll testified that she had been disappointed in the lack of interest in the book, and had complained to her publicists at 42 West for not getting her more press attention.

“The book was not selling. The book was a dud. It was an absolute dud,” she said.

She was also shown an interview where she had described her life as “fabulous” after the book was published.

“That is what I’d like my life to appear to be,” she said. “That is how I want people to perceive it.”

As he had done on day one of cross-examination on Thursday, Mr Tacopina repeatedly quizzed Ms Carroll about why she hadn’t gone to the police over the alleged rape.

“I am a woman of the silent generation,” she replied. “Women like me were taught and trained to keep our chins up and never complain. The fact that I never went to the police is not surprising. I would never call the police about something I was ashamed of. I thought it was my fault.”

Ms Carroll’s response was struck from the record for not responding to the asked question.

Joe Tacopina, lawyer of former U.S. President Donald Trump, questions former Elle magazine advice columnist E Jean Carroll on Monday.

She testified that she had frequently advised readers of her Elle advice column Ask E Jean to immediately report sexual assault to police and seek professional help.

In another heated exchange, Ms Carroll said that she had not sued former CBS CEO Les Moonves after accusing him of sexual assault because he had simply denied the claim.

“He didn’t call me names, he didn’t grind my face into the mud like Donald Trump did.”

Ms Carroll was further quizzed on whether she had tried to coerce incriminating details from Natasha Stoynoff, a former People magazine reporter who is expected to give evidence about being allegedly sexually assaulted by Mr Trump at Mar-a-Lago in 2005.

Excerpts were produced from a 2020 interview Ms Carroll did with Ms Stoynoff for The Atlantic where she suggested that Ms Carroll had tried to force Ms Stoynoff to say the former president was “grinding” on her.

Ms Carroll denied she had tried to get Ms Stoynoff to say that, adding she had asked her to think “whether it was a possibility”.

The exterior of Bergdorf Goodman luxury department store in Manhattan, which is at the centre of E Jean Carroll’s lawsuit against Donald Trump

Ms Carroll also testified that she had been to Bergdorf Goodman regularly over the years, making 23 purchases between 2001 and 2013 at the luxury department store, and that it was not a place she was afraid of.

Mr Trump’s defence team also played an excerpt of an interview Ms Carroll gave to CNN’s Anderson Cooper in 2019 where she said that most people think of rape as sexy.

Ms Carroll said she had been trying to make the point that popular culture was “saturated” with depictions of sexual assault.

Judge Lewis Kaplan, who had earlier dismissed a motion for mistrial by the defence, frequently scolded Mr Tacopina for being argumentative, disorganised, mishandling exhibits and for the length of time the cross examination was taking.

After spending three full days on the witness stand, Ms Carroll was excused on Monday afternoon.

Ms Carroll is seeking damages for defamation and battery, alleging her reputation was “destroyed” when the former president called her claims a “con job” in a Truth Social post in October 2022.

Mr Trump, 76, has strongly denied the rape took place.

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