Trump Confused Rape Accuser Carroll With Ex-Wife in Deposition
(Bloomberg) -- Former President Donald Trump mistook a 1980s photograph of New York author E. Jean Carroll, who claims he raped her more than two decades ago, for an image of his ex-wife Marla Maples during a deposition, according to a partially unsealed transcript in Carroll’s defamation suit.
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The slip-up during his Oct. 19 testimony could be used by Carroll at trial to undercut the claim by Trump, who denies the rape allegation, that she isn’t his “type.” The testimony was cited by her lawyer Roberta Kaplan in a redacted Jan. 12 filing made public on Wednesday.
Carroll, a former Elle magazine advice columnist, in 2019 went public with her claim that Trump raped her in a department store dressing room in the 1990s. She sued Trump for defamation after he called her a liar from the White House. He doubled down in an Oct. 12 post on his Truth Social platform.
“It is a hoax and a lie just like all the other hoaxes that have been played on me for the past seven years, and while I’m not supposed to say it, I will. This woman is not my type!” Trump said in the post.
But during his deposition, Kaplan showed him the 1987 photo of him with his then-wife Ivana Trump, chatting and smiling broadly with Carroll and her then-husband, TV journalist John Johnson, at a black-tie party. In the photo, included as an exhibit in the filing, Carroll is looking up at Trump and laughing.
When asked by Kaplan when he’d first seen the photo, Trump initially said he didn’t “know the woman,” but then said, “It’s Marla,” according to the transcript.
“You’re saying Marla is in this photo?” Kaplan asked Trump.
“That’s Marla, yeah,” Trump said. “That’s my wife.”
Trump’s lawyer, Alina Habba, interjected to correct him. “No, that’s Carroll,” Habba said.
“Oh, I see,” Trump responded.
“The person you just pointed to was E. Jean Carroll,” Kaplan said, according to the transcript.
Read the Trump deposition transcript here
Trump married Maples six years after the photo was taken. She gave birth to his daughter Tiffany Trump.
On Thursday Habba called Kaplan’s line of questioning “absurd.”
“Since Carroll has no actual evidence to support her case, her lawyers grasp at the absurd by cherry-picking one line out of hundreds of pages and highlighting it out of context,” she said. “But parlor tricks do not win cases — evidence does.”
The implied criticism of Carroll’s appearance is one of several remarks at the center of her 2019 defamation suit against Trump. Carroll also claims Trump defamed her by saying she fabricated the assault to sell a book and by falsely claiming she made similar allegations against other men. He also said Carroll had made the accusation for political purposes, a claim he couldn’t explain during the deposition.
Kaplan asked Trump if he “had any documents indicating that she was pursuing a political agenda” when he made the accusation in 2019, according to the transcript.
“No,” Trump said.
During the deposition at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida, the former president repeatedly emphasized that he was not attracted to Carroll. Asked why he decided to phrase his denial in such terms, he defended his choice of words.
“She’s accusing me of rape, a woman that I have no idea who she is,” Trump said. “It came out of the blue. She’s accusing me of rape — of raping her, the worst thing you can do, the worst charge.”
‘Not My Type’
Kaplan then asked Trump if the point of saying Carroll was not his type is “to persuade people that you didn’t rape her because she wasn’t attractive enough; correct?”
“When I say she’s not my type, I say she is not a woman I would ever be attracted to,” Trump said. “There is no reason for me to be attracted to her. I just — it’s not even meant to be an insult.”
Carroll’s Jan. 12 filing urged the judge to deny Trump’s request to grant him a victory in the case without trial. There is more than enough evidence that Trump made false claims about Carroll, her lawyer argued, and that her reputation was damaged when he called her a liar.
“President Trump’s charge that she had lied about everything — about meeting him, about the rape itself, about her motives for coming forward — had devastating consequences,” Kaplan said in the filing.
Trump called the allegation a “ridiculous and disgusting story” during the deposition, according to the unsealed transcript.
“She made up the story,” he said. “It’s a total lie. She knows it. She did it to sell a book, I guess, or something.”
Maples, who was Trump’s second wife, isn’t involved in the matter. Ivana and Donald Trump divorced in 1992, several years after Trump’s relationship with Maples began. Maples married him at his Plaza Hotel property in Manhattan in 1993. They divorced in 1999. Trump married his current wife, Melania, in 2005, and they have one son, Barron.
Maples attended Ivana Trump’s funeral with Tiffany.
The case is Carroll v. Trump, 20-cv-07311, US District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).
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