(NEW YORK) — E. Jean Carroll returned to the witness stand on Thursday in her federal battery and defamation lawsuit against former President Donald Trump.
Defense attorney Joe Tacopina suggested Carroll had political motives for filing her suit. He showed the jury an email that contained a draft excerpt from the book Carroll wrote. One chapter refers to her alleged rape by Trump.
“He’s poisoning my water, he’s polluting my air, he’s cooking my planet … and as he stacks the courts, my rights over my body are being taken away state by state. I’m afraid my right to free speech will go next. So now I will tell you what happened,” the message said.
Carroll replied that the message contained a draft that was never published.
Tacopina then questioned why Carroll could not pinpoint a date the alleged rape occurred.
“I wish to heaven we could give you a date,” Carroll said.
Tacopina suggested Carroll only told her story about Trump to sell a book.
“You thought including the story about Donald Trump while he was still president would help sell the book?” he asked.
“I thought so but I was wrong,” Carroll said. She had previously testified her book did not sell well.
Tacopina then asked, “In two decades you don’t call the police, correct?” Carroll replied, “Correct.”
“In two decades you never revealed this story in your hundreds of your advice columns, correct?” Tacopina said.
“Correct,” Carroll said.
“Only when you were trying to get a publisher and sell your book?” Tacopina asked, to which Carroll replied her story came out after The New York Times published its landmark story about Harvey Weinstein.
“And when that happened, across the country, women began telling their stories. And I was flummoxed. Can we actually speak up and not be pummeled? I thought well this may be a way to change the culture of sexual violence. The light dawned. I thought we can actually change things if we actually tell our stories,” Carroll said.
“So it was Harvey Weinstein and all the women against him that caused you to leap into action?” Tacopina asked.
Carroll answered, “It caused me to realize that staying silent does not work. We have a chance of limiting the harm that happens.”
Carroll also told the jury she was assaulted by then-CBS chairman Les Moonves after an interview. She said she and Moonves entered an elevator and then “he pushed me up against the wall.”
She did not sue Moonves, Carroll said, because “he did not defame me. He did not call me a liar.”
Carroll, however, sued Trump in November 2019 “because he called me a liar. Because he said I accused other men of rape. He said I was an operative or in a conspiracy with the Democratic Party … and he said I was too ugly to rape. So I sued him.”
Carroll said no one told convinced her to sue but she “had a conversation” with Republican lawyer and Trump critic George Conway, who Carroll said “does not like Donald Trump.”
After Trump’s defense attorney claimed Carroll was out for money, she said she was not struggling financially when she filed her lawsuit and was not looking for a large payoff.
“It’s not about the money. It’s about getting my name back,” Carroll said, who added that she is constantly under threat.
“This morning, for instance, I thought I would just take a peek at my Twitter. And there it was again, the onslaught of the lair, slut, ugly, old. It’s not a great way to begin the day. But I could not be more proud to be here.”
On Wednesday, Carroll described in sometimes graphic terms the pain of the alleged assault and the weight of Trump’s body against her.
“I remember him being — he was very large and his whole weight came against my chest and held me up there, and he leaned down and pulled down my tights,” Carroll, who testified for nearly three-and-a-half hours, said.
Her testimony may have also given the defense an opening since Carroll conceded she “wasn’t 100% certain” when the alleged attack occurred.
“This question, the when, the when, the date has just been something that I am constantly trying to pin down. It’s very difficult,” Carroll said.
Carroll’s attorneys asked her whether she had watched The Apprentice, Trump’s reality television show. When she said she had, her attorney, Michael Ferrara, asked why.
“I love the premise of ambitious young businesspeople competing for a job. I thought that was really quite witty and it was different. It was so much better than, you know, the dating contests and the beauty contests and those — this was a real contest where you could watch it and learn a thing or two. It was very — it was beautifully produced,” Carroll said.
It remains unclear if Trump will testify himself. The judge demanded to know this week whether Trump will appear, telling the defense that it was time to “fish or cut bait.”
Trump has denied all allegations that he raped Carroll or defamed her.
The trial is expected to last about five days. The nine-member jury of six men and three women is weighing Carroll’s defamation and battery claims and deciding potential monetary damages.
This week’s trial is taking place as Trump seeks the White House for a third time while facing numerous legal challenges related to the Jan. 6 Capitol attack, his handling of classified material after leaving the White House and possible attempts to interfere in the Georgia’s 2020 vote. Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis said Monday she would decide whether to file criminal charges against Trump or his allies this summer.
Carroll’s lawsuit is her second against Trump related to her rape allegation.
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