Trump’s rape trial testimony could come back to bite him in hush money case

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Donald Trump’s shocking claims that stars can get away with sexual assault “unfortunately – or fortunately” during the E Jean Carroll rape trial may yet form a key piece of self-incriminating evidence at his criminal hush money payments trial.

A portion of the former president’s video-taped deposition was played at the federal civil trial in New York in May, where jurors ruled he was liable for sexually assaulting Ms Carroll in a Bergdorf Goodman dressing room in the 1990s and ordered him to pay her $5m.

Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg, who charged Mr Trump with 34 felony counts of falsifying business records in March, has subpoenaed Ms Carroll’s lawyers for the full deposition tape, a court filing in July revealed.

Prosecutors “demonstrated that the request seeks items that are relevant and material” to the New York criminal case, the judge in the hush money case, Juan Merchan, wrote.

The tapes will likely add to the weight of evidence already in the public domain that Mr Trump was utterly dismissive when confronted with allegations of wrongdoing, lied and attacked his accusers and harboured deeply mysoginistic views.

In October 2022, Mr Trump was deposed by Ms Carroll’s attorney Roberta Kaplan where he was asked about the Access Hollywood tapes in which he was boasted of being able to grab women “by the p*****”.

“Historically that’s true with stars. If you look over the last million years, that’s largely true, unfortunately — or fortunately,” Mr Trump replied.

Donald Trump claimed that stars could get away with sexual assault,  ‘unfortunately—or fortunately’ (Associated Press)
Donald Trump claimed that stars could get away with sexual assault, ‘unfortunately—or fortunately’ (Associated Press)

Elsewhere on the recording, Mr Trump repeated defamatory comments that Ms Carroll was a liar and “not his type”. He added that Ms Kaplan “wouldn’t be a choice of mine either.”

The tape helped convince a nine-person jury that Mr Trump was liable for a vicious sexual assault on Ms Carroll that had upended her life.

Mr Bragg sought to obtain the full deposition tape to show how the former president “dealt with allegations of a sexual nature”, according to a court filing.

New York prosecutors first requested the depositions in May, when they wrote to Ms Kaplan asking for “the full transcript, full video recording, and all exhibits related to the videotaped deposition of Donald J. Trump.”

Mr Trump’s lawyers tried to block the subpoena, arguing it was part of a “fishing expedition” designed to harm his reputation.

On 7 July, Judge Merchan issued a ruling that the request was “not overbroad or otherwise inappropriate.”

He asked prosecutors to seek clarification from Judge Lewis Kaplan whether the release of the full video would breach a confidential order put in place before the trial.

A decision is expected within days.

E Jean Carroll leaves a Manhattan court in May after a jury awarded her $5m for a sexual assault committed by Mr Trump (Associated Press)
E Jean Carroll leaves a Manhattan court in May after a jury awarded her $5m for a sexual assault committed by Mr Trump (Associated Press)

The hush money charges stem from allegations that Mr Trump directed his former fixer Michael Cohen to pay the adult actress Stormy Daniels to suppress a planned story about their affair prior to the 2016 presidential election.

Cohen also allegedly arranged for the National Enquirer to pay for a story about an affair Mr Trump had with former Playboy model Karen McDougal, only to never publish her account.

Cohen pleaded guilty to tax evasion and campaign finance violations in 2018 for his role in the so-called “catch and kill” scheme and was sentenced to three years in federal prison.

Prosecutors allege Mr Trump covered up the payments to help his election chances, and potentially breached campaign finance laws.

The trial is due to go to trial in March 2024, when the presidential campaign season will be in full swing.

The Manhattan DA’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment by The Independent.

Mr Trump is also facing dozens of federal criminal charges in Florida related to his retention of classified documents after leaving the White House.

Special prosecutor Jack Smith last month sent him a target letter as part of an investigation into efforts to overturn the 2020 presidential elections.

And Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis has said she would soon announce charging decisions in her investigation into efforts by Mr Trump and his allies to overturn Georgia’s 2020 presidential election result.