NEW YORK — Donald Trump has not attended the civil trial in which E. Jean Carroll is accusing him of rape, but jurors watched the former president defend himself Thursday.
In a videotaped deposition played in Manhattan federal court, he justified statements he made in the infamous “Access Hollywood” tape, lobbed personal attacks at a lawyer questioning him and described rape as “the worst thing you can do, the worst charge.”
The video showed the former president growing agitated, at times crossing his arms over his chest, under questioning by Roberta Kaplan, a lawyer for Carroll, who says Trump raped her in a dressing room at the luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman in the mid-1990s. Carroll is suing Trump for battery and defamation. He has denied the alleged attack, saying it “never happened.”
In the deposition, conducted at Mar-a-Lago in October, Kaplan asked Trump about the “Access Hollywood” tape, a recording from 2005 in which Trump can be heard saying, “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything,” adding: “Grab them by the pussy. You can do anything.”
“Well, historically that’s true with stars,” Trump replied after watching a clip of his comments.
When Kaplan pressed him on whether he stood by the statement that a star could “grab them by the pussy,” the former president said: “Well, I guess if you look over the last million years, that’s been largely true — not always true, but largely true, unfortunately or fortunately.”
“And you consider yourself to be a star?” she asked.
“I think so, yeah,” Trump said.
During the deposition, Kaplan questioned him about several other women who have accused him of sexual assault, women Trump has characterized as not being his “type.”
Growing belligerent, Trump told Kaplan herself that “you wouldn’t be a choice of mine, either, to be honest.” He added: “I wouldn’t in any circumstances have any interest in you.”
Trump has defended himself by saying Carroll, too, isn’t his “type,” but earlier in the deposition, after he was shown a photograph of himself engaging with Carroll at a party, he confused the image of her with that of one of his ex-wives, Marla Maples.
“It’s Marla,” he said, looking at the photo. “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife.”
“I take it the three women you’ve married are all your type?” Kaplan asked him later. “Yeah,” he replied.
Calling Carroll “mentally sick” and a “nut job,” Trump suggested, as he had previously, that he didn’t know her.
“She’s accusing me of rape, a woman who I have no idea who she is,” he said. “She’s accusing me of rape — the worst thing you can do, the worst charge.”
Starting on Wednesday afternoon and continuing Thursday, the jury watched about 45 minutes of excerpts of the deposition. On Thursday, jurors also heard from witnesses including Carol Martin, a longtime friend of Carroll’s. Martin testified that Carroll told her about the alleged rape at Bergdorf’s a day or two after it happened.
“I’m here … to reiterate and remember what my friend E. Jean Carroll told me … about 27 years ago,” Martin said on the witness stand.
She added: “I believed it then and I believe it today.” After an objection from Trump’s lawyer, the judge — without elaboration — instructed the jury to disregard her last comment.