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Deposition transcript adds to Trump’s troubles in Carroll case

Why does it matter that Donald Trump confused a woman who has accused him of rape with one of his ex-wives? Because it might undermine his defense.


It was about a week ago when the public first saw a partial transcript of Donald Trump’s deposition in E. Jean Carroll’s defamation case. As we discussed soon after, it was not good news for the Republican: The former president not only lashed out at his accuser as a “nut job” and someone who’s “mentally sick,” he also falsely suggested that Carroll was on record enjoying sexual assault.

“She actually indicated that she loved it. OK?” Trump said in the deposition, mischaracterizing comments Carroll made on CNN four years ago. “In fact, I think she said it was sexy, didn’t she? She said it was very sexy to be raped.”

The plaintiff’s attorney asked, “So, sir, I just want to confirm: It’s your testimony that E. Jean Carroll said that she loved being sexually assaulted by you?” Trump responded, “Well, based on her interview with Anderson Cooper, I believe that’s what took place.”

As NBC News reported, the rest of the deposition is now also coming into focus in striking ways.

Former President Donald Trump confused E. Jean Carroll, the writer who has accused him of rape, with ex-wife Marla Maples in a photo he was shown during a deposition, newly unsealed court documents show. An excerpt of the October deposition released by U.S. District Court for Southern New York on Wednesday includes an exchange in which Trump was asked by Carroll’s lawyer about a black-and-white photograph that showed a small group of people, including Trump and Carroll.

Describing the image showing him and his accuser, Trump said, “That’s Marla, yeah. That’s my wife,” referring to the second of his three spouses. At that point, the Republican’s lawyer intervened, correcting her client’s mistake.

“No, that’s Carroll,” lawyer Alina Habba said, according to the newly released transcript.

At face value, this might seem like an embarrassing blunder in which the former president confused one of his former wives with a woman who accused him of attacking her. But there’s more to it than that: As NBC News’ report added, “Trump’s comments under oath threaten to undercut his repeated denials of Carroll’s allegations, claiming she’s ‘not my type.’”

In case anyone needs a refresher, Carroll spent years as a prominent writer, media figure and advice columnist, including having hosted a show on America’s Talking, which later became MSNBC (my employer). In June 2020, she joined a long list of women who’ve accused Trump of sexual misconduct.

Carroll described an alleged encounter in a New York department store in the mid-1990s, which the writer described as a violent sexual assault committed by the future president. Though definitively proving or disproving Carroll’s claim is difficult, the writer said she confided in two friends shortly after the alleged incident, telling them at the time what she said occurred. Soon after, those friends came forward with on-the-record accounts. Carroll also sought DNA testing of the dress she says she wore during the alleged incident.

The former president denied the claim, arguing, among other things, that Carroll is a “liar” who isn’t his “type” — suggesting he didn’t find her physically attractive enough to attack. It was against this backdrop that in his sworn deposition, Trump also confused a photo of Carroll with his second wife.

The case is expected to go to trial in April. I realize Trump has boasted that he never agrees to out-of-court settlements, but if I were a part of his team, I’d probably tell him not to let this case reach a courtroom.