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Carroll confidantes come forward, discuss assault claim against Trump

E. Jean Carroll alleges that Donald Trump attacked her in a department store. We're now hearing from women she confided at the time.

It's been nearly a week since E. Jean Carroll, a longtime writer and media figure, went public with her allegation that Donald Trump attacked her in a department store dressing room in the mid-1990s. The president has denied the claim, arguing, among other things, that his latest accuser isn't his "type."

Definitively proving or disproving Caroll's claim is very difficult: there is no security footage to review and no physical evidence to scrutinize. But the writer explained in her account that she confided in two friends shortly after the alleged incident, telling them at the time what she said occurred.

New York magazine, which originally published Carroll's story as a book excerpt, reported on Friday that it had "verified that Carroll did disclose the attack to these friends at the time," but her confidantes remained unnamed.

This morning, that changed: the New York Times spoke to both of Carroll's friends on the record for its "The Daily" podcast.

On Wednesday, Megan Twohey, a Times reporter, interviewed Ms. Carroll and the two women, Carol Martin and Lisa Birnbach, who had not been publicly identified until now. It was the first time since the alleged assault that the women had discussed it together. [...]The two women in whom Ms. Carroll confided were well-known figures in the '90s world of New York media. Ms. Martin was a news anchor on WCBS-TV in New York from 1975 to 1995. Ms. Birnbach is a writer best known for "The Official Preppy Handbook," a best seller released in 1981. She has occasionally written for The Times.

The accounts from Birnbach and Martin are not evidence that the attack occurred as Carroll described it. However, their perspectives are strong evidence that Carroll didn't subsequently concoct a story and help make Carroll’s version of events easier to believe.

Nevertheless, as far as the president's Republican allies are concerned, Trump's denials -- no matter how distasteful -- effectively end the conversation.